Graduate School of Nursing

Joining Forces Event

USU's Graduate School of Nursing is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2013. It was established in 1993 with the Family Nurse Practitioner Program. Since then, it has grown in size and scope. Now, the GSN has four Master of Science in Nursing programs, three Doctor of Nursing Practice programs and a Doctor of Philosophy program.

“We’ve always been an incredible resource for military health care. Our focus has centered around warriors’ and their families’ health and well-being for decades now, and we’ve been hugely successful in these efforts,” said Ada Sue Hinshaw, PhD, dean of the GSN. “As a tribute to our vast array of accomplishments, we’ll celebrate both our heritage and triumphs with 20th anniversary commemorations that will include special guest speakers, research highlights and alumni achievements.”

Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist MSN Program Option (AG-CNS)

Scope: Wellness to Acute Care
Specialty Focus: Perioperative Continuum of Care


The Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist (AGCNS) program is dedicated to the education of nurses in the uniformed services within the advanced practice role of the Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS). The AGCNS program prepares nurses for the care of the adult and geriatric population across the wellness to acute care continuum, and includes specialty preparation in perioperative nursing. The educational focus is on the integration of clinical practice, management and leadership, evidence-based practice, education, and consultation into the single multifaceted Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) role of a CNS. The program integrates evidence-based theory and practice concepts to enable students to critically analyze scientific literature; evaluate nursing outcomes; translate evidence to support clinical, fiscal, and managerial decision-making; and develop advanced practice skills necessary to function in increasingly complex healthcare settings and assist in the transformation of healthcare in the future to improve safety and outcomes for our patients.

In addition to the role and population focus of the AGCNS program, additional content is provided to support the specialty focus of perioperative nursing. From a specialty perspective, the program emphasizes building leadership within the perioperative environment to improve patient care outcomes; enhance the delivery of evidence based care; and improve the business-side of healthcare focused on efficiency, productivity, and overall management in the care of the surgical patient. The specialty focus of the program supports advanced clinical nursing practice across the perioperative continuum of care to enhance specialized nursing knowledge and skills in the care of patients and families undergoing operative and other invasive procedures.

The primary goal of the program is to produce advanced practice nurses educated in the CNS role, for the adult-gerontology population, with an additional specialty focus in perioperative nursing. Because of the multifaceted nature of the CNS, graduates not only provide direct care for individuals, but continually function in a collegial relationship with nurses, physicians, and health care organizations in an effort to improve patient outcomes through process and system changes. As such, graduates from the program are uniquely qualified to manage quality care of the adult-geriatric population across the continuum from wellness through acute care, inclusive of the perioperative environment; analyze healthcare systems/processes to optimize patient outcomes; and guide change for organizational success in the provision of evidence based/quality patient care in diverse settings world-wide.


The AGCNS program is 24 months of full-time study combining didactic and clinical experiences across the wellness through acute care continuum within the five domains of the Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS): leader/manager, consultant, educator, scholar (evidence-based practice) and clinical expert within the three spheres of influence (patient, nurse and organization) for CNS practice. Within the 2 year program, on average, graduates will obtain over 1056 hours of clinical experience working with masters and doctorally-prepared managers, clinical nurse specialists, physician assistants, clinical and surgeon champions, and subject matter experts within federal and civilian healthcare facilities. In addition to educational preparation for the role and population, the program is designed to include clinical and didactic specialty content in perioperative nursing. All clinical assignments are designed in concert with the leadership at the clinical sites in an effort to develop "real world application" experiences demonstrating the student's ability to translate knowledge gained in the classroom to clinical practice. The approximate clinical hour distribution supporting the CNS role across the wellness through acute care continuum as well as within the perioperative specialty for the adult-geriatric population is as follows: wellness/primary care - 256 clinical hours (24%); acute care - 380 clinical hours (35%); and perioperative continuum - 420 clinical hours (40%).

The curriculum meets or exceeds the National Association for Clinical Nurse Specialist (NACNS) guidelines for masters programs and is aligned with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing 2011 Essentials of Master's Education in Nursing; 2008 Consensus Model for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) Regulation: Licensure, Accreditation, Certification & Education (LACE); 2009/10 CNS Core Competencies established by NACNS; the 2010 Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist Competencies; 2010 AACN Scope and Standards for Acute and Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist Practice; Association of periOperative Nurses(AORN) 2006 Position Statement on the Perioperative Advanced Practice Nurse; and AORNs 2010 Perioperative Advanced Practice Nurse Competencies.

Graduates from this program are prepared to sit for advanced practice certification as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Adult-Gerontology offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) Certification Corporation. Additionally, graduates are eligible to sit for specialty certification as a perioperative CNS offered by the Credentialing and Certification Institute (CCI). The specialty certification recognizes advanced specialty knowledge of the CNS and is in addition to the initial certification as an APRN (a means to certify the APRN within a specialty practice area).