Mercer Re-Focuses Graduate Program on Two Areas of Critical Need: Nurse Educator, Clinical Nurse Specialist


ATLANTA – Georgia Baptist College of Nursing of Mercer University will offer two focuses in its Master of Science in Nursing program: the Nurse Educator and the Clinical Nurse Specialist. Both programs are taught on Mercer’s Cecil B. Day Atlanta campus, which is off Interstate 85, just inside the northeast perimeter. Classes begin the 18th of August.

“Both of these programs address critical needs in today’s healthcare,” said Linda Streit, D.S.N., director of Graduate Programs for the College of Nursing. “Our nation and our state are facing enormous shortages of nurses, and a major part of the shortage can be attributed to the lack of nurse educators to prepare the next generation of nurses.

“The same situation of need applies to the Clinical Nurse Specialist,” Streit continued. “These nurses provide valuable leadership and skills within the clinical setting, especially hospitals and medical centers. Through their studies, these graduates bring a higher degree of knowledge, experience and expertise that ensures best practices in the clinical setting, directly benefiting the care and well-being of patients and clients.”
Mercer has re-designed its Nurse Educator focus to be more attainable for qualified nurses, even if they are juggling both family and professional responsibilities. The three-semester program allows full-time students to begin their studies in the fall and to be prepared to accept an academic appointment by the next fall. Besides giving experienced nurses the opportunity to take their clinical skills and knowledge to the classroom to prepare the next generation of nurses, the Nurse Educator program can be taken on a full-time (two days a week) or part-time (one day a week) basis, thus, fitting into a nurse’s work schedule.

The extreme need for nurse educators has made funds to pay for the program available through state and federal loan packages. Applicants who plan to teach will have access to the Federal Nursing Loan program that can be applied towards tuition, including books and fees, and allows 85 percent of the loan to be re-paid through teaching. For those who qualify, state funds are available up to a total of $10,000, which also can be paid back by teaching in an accredited nursing program.

“My career has flourished since I completed the MSN program at Mercer University,” said Karen Rooks, RN, MSN, CPAN. “I was immediately hired to teach at Kennesaw State University Wellstar School of Nursing after graduation. After teaching for three years at Kennesaw, I moved into a new position as the program development coordinator for the Center of Nursing Excellence at Saint Joseph’s Hospital of Atlanta, where I am helping new nurses make the transition from student nurse to registered nurse. Both positions I have held since obtaining my MSN have helped me develop our future nurses and to give back to the profession of nursing that I love so much.”

The Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) focus is a 16-month or four-semester program and enables the graduate to take the Clinical Nurse Specialist Certification Exam. Along with teaching how to apply principles of decision-making, critical-thinking and independent judgment, the curriculum equips students with the skills to disseminate and utilize evidence-based research in nursing practice and education.  Ultimately, the CNS is prepared to impact in effecting the “bottom-line” of health care. Nurses with CNS certification are in increasing demand by hospitals and medical centers seeking or maintaining the prestigious Magnet status. It also serves as an excellent foundation for those interested in pursuing a doctoral degree.

“The Clinical Nurse Specialist is for nurses who want to make a tremendous difference not only within their profession, but also in their health care institution,” said Streit. “These graduates will become leaders in nursing care and serve as exemplars of best practices in clinical settings.”

The College of Nursing is interested in talking with nurses who are ready to advance their professional career and to enhance the nursing profession-at-large. Applicants for Fall Semester 2008 (or for future classes) are invited to schedule an interview with the Admissions Office at (678) 547-6700. Information is also online at