A Conceptual Framework for a Clinical Nurse Leader Program

Margaret M. Maag, University of San Francisco
Robin Buccheri, University of San Francisco
Elena Capella, University of San Francisco


Developing a map to guide the design of a novel educational program for nursing students can assist educators in piecing together identified conceptual variables in a logical and reasonable manner. We developed a conceptual model for a clinical nurse leader (CNL) program to present to a school of nursing faculty and a state board of nursing for approval and adoption. The concept map was created following a literature review and analysis of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing description of the CNL. Following the identification of certain variables, such as theories underpinning nursing practice, clinical processes, and education, each team member researched identified variables of the conceptual diagram, wrote a thoughtful explanation of the components, and frequently met with the others to discuss each element of the model and the relationships among the variables. Over time, an emerging model developed and was adopted by the school of nursing and approved by the state board of nursing. An explanation of the components of the conceptual framework and their relationship to the CNL role may assist educators in developing and implementing other emerging CNL programs.