Prepare for the Certified Nurse Manager and Leader Exam With an MSN in Leadership and Administration

Nurse managers and leaders perform similar tasks to run their respective teams but serve different purposes within the healthcare field. What are the distinct differences between the two?

According to Indeed, nurse leadership is “the practice of leading initiatives that improve nursing practices and outcomes. Nurse leaders rely on their ability to motivate and inspire nursing teams and staff in the development of high-quality practices and patient care methodologies.”

Nurse leaders oversee policy implementation throughout the facility, guiding nurses along the healing journey they navigate with patients.

On the other hand, Indeed states that nurse management is “the process of directing teams and nursing departments to maintain best practices and organization when providing care to patients. Nurse managers direct the daily processes and routines of the medical facility they work in, and they instruct nursing staff through hands-on approaches to ensure the efficacy of patient care and treatment plans.”

Managers often oversee leaders by teaching the nursing staff how to better serve patients and ensure safe treatment plans. Both professionals work together to transform the outlook of healthcare organizations on a global level. But, before either can perform their respective roles officially, they must complete certain milestones, such as completing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Leadership and Administration program and passing the Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML) exam.

What Is the Certified Nurse Manager and Leader Exam?

To become a certified nurse manager or leader, all professionals must pass the CNML exam at an in-person testing site. This does not occur without proper preparation.

Vivian states the exam is only for candidates who “meet education and experience provisions plus pass a computerized exam.” The CNML exam “evaluates a nurse manager’s proficiency in financial management, human resource management, performance improvement, and strategic management and technology.” Administered by computer, the exam takes two hours to complete and is scored electronically, so results are immediate. The exam contains 100 scored multiple-choice questions and 15 unscored pretest questions. To pass the exam, nurses must earn a minimum score of 70.

The CNML frequently asked questions page and Vivian’s exam guide each include education and experience requirements and professional standards of conduct. Professionals taking the exam for the first time must pay $300 if they are a member of the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) or $425 for non-members, per Vivian.

All certified nurse managers and leaders must renew their certification every three years by retaking the exam or completing 45 hours of professional development during this period. Vivian also lists the renewal exam fee for AONL members as $200 and the exam fee for non-members as $275.

Importance of the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL)

To further develop as a manager or leader, a nurse can earn CNML certification through AONL to demonstrate progress.

According to the AONL, it is “the national professional organization of more than 11,000 nurse leaders” and “the voice of nursing leadership.” The AONL seeks to “transform health care through expert and influential nursing leadership” to advance health for all.

International nurse managers and leaders can also take the CNML exam to become certified. However, these professionals must submit additional paperwork to successfully sign up for the exam and prepare for the certification. This information can be found on the CNML frequently asked questions page.

Why a Master’s Degree Matters

One way to prepare for a certified nurse leader or manager position as a professional nurse is to further your career and earn your MSN degree. Those who enroll in the online MSN in Leadership and Administration program at Southern Utah University (SUU) will build a multidisciplinary skill set that will advance their knowledge and allow them to complete the CNML exam.

Students will learn to assess common issues nurses and other healthcare professionals face and create action-oriented solutions. In addition, the program allows students to understand healthcare policy, organization and financing to initiate change and improve nursing and healthcare practices in communities and globally.

For example, the Introduction to Healthcare Administration course covers the basics of functional complexities inherent to all the various healthcare delivery systems. In the Ethics in Nursing Leadership course, students will learn ways to create safe forums for ethical discussion, reasoning and influence. The program’s accelerated pace means students can complete their coursework in as few as 10 months.

Each future nurse leader will obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to enter influential roles in the healthcare field, such as nurse manager, clinical nurse researcher, chief nursing officer, nurse administrator, clinical nurse leader, director of nursing or nurse educator.

Learn more about Southern Utah University’s online MSN in Leadership and Administration program.

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