Nursing is a profession with many possible career paths. Cleveland Clinic’s Stanley Shalom Zielony Institute for Nursing Excellence offers nurses a Professional Nurse Career Pathway that allows them to identify opportunities, explore nursing specialties and create a plan for lifelong learning. Nurses in their first year of employment at Cleveland Clinic have many professional development opportunities that help them acclimate to their department and participate in available programs and initiatives. This allows them to determine areas of interest and get involved. After the first year, there are four career tracks as follows: Leadership, Clinical Expert, Advanced Practice, and Specialty Nursing. Each track features developmental courses, experiential learning, and supporting activities.

Year One

Year One

Whether you are a new graduate beginning your career as a professional nurse or an experienced nurse beginning your first job with Cleveland Clinic, the first year involves many adjustments as you learn a new culture and organizational structure, department expectations and new patient populations. This is also the time to develop relationships with peers and members of the interdisciplinary team and to begin your professional development journey as a Cleveland Clinic nurse.

In addition to completing orientation and residency (for new graduates), the Nursing Career Path guides first year nurses to professional development opportunities that help them acclimate to their department and available programs and initiatives, allowing them to explore, determine areas of interest, and get involved.

Career Path Year 1
Leadership Track

Leadership Track

The leadership track is for aspiring nurse leaders at all levels of leadership. Within this track, staff/clinical nurses, assistant nurse managers, nurse managers and other nurse leaders can browse through all of the educational offerings and leadership experience/exposure opportunities to create a plan that meets their professional leadership goals.

Staff/Clinical Nurse  Assistant Nurse Manager Nurse Manager
Education Education Education

 Recommended Leadership Courses:

  • Shared Governance Boot Camp
  • Preceptor Class
  • Lead the SuperCharge
  • MAGNUS - Clinical Empowerment Experience

Elective Courses:

  • Personal Mastery and Professionalism
  • Healthy Teams for Individual Contributors

Recommended Courses (in first 6 months in role)

  • Shared Governance Boot Camp
  • Preceptor Class
  • Lead the SuperCharge
  • Basic Strategies for New Nurse Leaders
  • HR Fundamentals for Managers
  • Personal Mastery and Professionalism

Recommended Courses (at 7 to 24 months into role)

  • Building an Empowered Team
  • Performance Coaching
  • Managing Relationships
  • Interprofessionalism

Elective Courses - many offerings

 Recommended Courses (in first 6 months in role)

  • Basic Strategies for New Nurse Leaders
  • Finance and Productivity
  • Managing Relationships
  • Performance Coaching
  • Building an Empowered Team
  • HR Fundamentals for Managers
  • Personal Mastery and Professionalism

Recommended Courses (at 12 to 24 months into role)

  • Influencing
  • Interprofessionalism

Recommended Courses (at 12 to 24 months into role)

  • Guiding Interactions
  • Transformational Leadership

Elective Courses - many offerings

 Experience/Exposure to Leadership Activities Experience/Exposure to Leadership Activities Experience/Exposure to Leadership Activities
  •  Join or chair Shared Governance Council
  • Participate in continuous improvement project
  • conduct quality audits
  • Obtain professional certification
  • Precept new nurses and/or students
  • Lead huddles
  • Serve as charge nurse
  • Apply for Professional Ladder
  • Become a clinical expert
  •  Support unit Shared Governance Council
  • Participate in unit finance/budget meeting
  • Participate in unit rounding
  • Lead performance improvement project
  • Participate in interviews
  • Apply for Professional Ladder
  • Obtain professional certification
  • Lead unit meetings or education sessions
  • Serve as a mentor
  • Participate in interdisciplinary teams
  • Encourage innovation
  • Learn about succession planning
  • Participate in unit and/or nursing business plan
  • Join hospital and/or enterprise-wide committees
  • Lead change management projects
  • Become involved in community initiatives
Clinical Expert

Clinical Expert

Clinical nurses serve on the frontline of healthcare, leading and coordinating the care of multiple patients. At Cleveland Clinic, clinical nurses are encouraged to engage in professional development activities and to consider opportunities to become unit-based experts. With training offered in more than 10 different areas of clinical expertise, nurses have a wealth of training options open to them.  For nurses seeking to challenge themselves by exploring a different clinical specialty, Cleveland Clinic offers an abundance of specialties from which to choose. See below for a sampling of clinical specialties available.

Clinical Expert
Education Exposure/Experience Activities

Attend training to become a Clinical Expert, Resource Nurse or Unit Champion in the following:

  • Pain Management
  • Diabetes Mentor
  • Vascular Access Resource Nurse (VARN)
  • Skin Care Resource Nurse (SCRN)
  • Geriatric Resource Nurse (GRN)
  • Stroke Resource Nurse
  • EPIC Superuser
  • Blood Borne Pathogen Specialist
  • Lactation Consultant
  • SANE Nurse
  • Palliative Care/End of Life Resource Nurse

Become a Preceptor for new nurses and/or student nurses

  • Preceptor Foundations Course
  • Experienced Preceptor Development Course
  • Obtain professional certification
  • Obtain mentor
  • Shadow clinical expert
  • Lead a performance improvement initiative in your area of expertise
  • Develop a research proposal in your area of expertise (with research mentor)
  • Submit an innovation idea
  • Conduct quality audits on your unit
  • Join the hospital or Cleveland Clinic Nurse Practice Council
  • Join or chair your unit Shared Governance Council
 Learn about Different Clinical Specialties
  • Ambulatory
  • OR Nursing
  • Post Anesthesia Care Nursing
  • Ambulatory Surgery Nursing
  • Emergency Nursing
  • Orthopaedic Nursing
  • Medical/Surgical Nursing
  • Pediatric Nursing
  • Pediatric Intensive Care Nursing
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing
  • Home Health Nursing
  • Mother/Baby Nursing
  • Neurology Nursing
  • Neuro Intensive Care Nursing
  • Cardiac Intensive Care Nursing
  • Medical Intensive Care Nursing
  • Surgical Intensive Care Nursing
  • Forensic Nursing
  • Hospice Nursing
  • Oncology Nursing
  • Critical Care Transport Nursing
  • Rehabilitation Nursing
Advanced Practice Nursing

Advanced Practice Nursing

The Advanced Practice Registered Nursing track is for nurses who are or are aspiring to be advanced practice registered nurses. This track provides advanced practice registered nurses with professional development activities that support their ongoing growth and development. It also provides nurses who may be interested in becoming an advanced practice registered nurse with resources to understand the different types of APRNs, educational requirements, and roles and responsibilities.

Professional Development Opportunities for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses
Leadership Education Research Quality
  • Join the APRN Council
  • Join your APRN professional organization and consider serving in a leadership position

Attend Nurse Leader Development Courses

  • Building an Empowered Team
  • Managing Relationships
  • Interprofessionalism
  • Guiding Interactions
  • Personal Mastery and Professionalism
  • Influencing for Impact
  • Transformational Leadership
  • Coaching for Performance
  • Participate in the Distinguished Educator Program
  • Attend Education Essentials Courses
  • Attend Simulation
  • Apply for Simulation Education Fellowship
  • Attend R.E.D.E. Series Courses 
  • Participate in APRN Journal Club
  • Attend APRN continuing education courses, seminars and conferences
  • Serve as an APRN preceptor
  • Complete CITI Training and other required courses for research
  • Obtain a research mentor
  • Develop and submit a research proposal to the IRB
  • Conduct an IRB approved research project
  • Write and submit a manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal
  • Submit an abstract for presentation at a national conference
  • Lead a continuous improvement project
  • Participate in interprofessional rounds
  • Join a committee
  • Participate in quality audits
  • Participate in a SolVE project
Explore Advanced Practice Registered Nursing Roles
Resources Provided by Cleveland Clinic 
  • Tuition Reimbursement
  • EdAssist Advising
  • Education Fairs
  • APRN Clinical Preceptors 
  • Continuing Education to meet certification requirements
  • Standard Care Arrangements
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Roles

Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP or CNP)
Certified registered nurse practitioners work in collaboration with physicians to provide preventive or primary care services to patients of all ages in a variety of settings both inside and outside the hospital setting. Nurse practitioners can specialize in a variety of areas, including neonatology, pediatrics, family, adult, women’s health, mental health, geriatrics and acute care. The nurse practitioners specific scope of practice is based upon their area of specialization and certification.

Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
Clinical nurse specialists are advanced practice nurses who provide and manage the care of individual patients or groups of patients with complex health problems. They are clinical experts in a specific patient population such as acute care/critical care, community health, gerontology, neonatology, occupational health, oncology, women’s health, medicine/surgery or psychiatry/mental health.

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
Certified nurse midwives provide preventive and primary care services to adolescents and women. They may follow women prior to, during and after pregnancy and delivery. They manage and care for women during the normal birthing process and postpartum period. They may also provide gynecologic and primary healthcare to women of all ages.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
Certified registered nurse anesthetists administer anesthesia under the collaboration and supervision of a physician in a variety of settings. They provide comprehensive care for the patient from the pre-anesthetic evaluation through the post-operative period. CRNAs provide anesthesia care in multiple settings, including hospitals, outpatient surgery centers and physician offices. Additionally, CRNAs manage acute and chronic pain in the perioperative period, though they are not eligible to prescribe.

Responsibilities of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses
Advanced Practice Registered Nurses at Cleveland Clinic provide the following services (based on role):
  • Complete history and physical exam
  • Develop a plan of care in collaboration with a physician
  • Order and interpret diagnostic tests and therapies
  • Prescribe medications, within the guidelines of the law
  • Coordinate care
  • Reassess and revise plan of care
  • Provide patient and family education
  • Consult with other members of the healthcare team in the development and management of a plan of care

These services are provided according to a standard care arrangement (SCA) developed between the APRN and their collaborating physician(s). This SCA is a formal written agreement and is required by Ohio law. It must be reviewed and signed every 2 years.



The Specialty Track is for nurses who aspire to specialize in an area of nursing practice outside of direct patient care.

Specialty Nursing Track
Specialties Exposure/Experience Activities

Nursing Education and Professional Development

  • Shadow Nurse Professional Development Specialist (NPDS)
  • Seek NPDS mentor
  • Participate in unit training program
  • Host a journal club
  • Offer to teach a class
  • Serve as a preceptor for new nurses  
  • Research MSN in Education programs and requirements
  • Join hospital or Cleveland Clinic Nursing Professional Development Council
Nursing Informatics
  • Shadow Nurse Informatics Specialist
  • Join hospital or Cleveland Clinic Nursing Informatics Council
  • Become an EPIC super user
  • Volunteer to be a super user for rollout of new technology
  • Investigate MSN in Informatics programs and requirements
Nursing Quality, Risk Management, and Accreditation
  •  Shadow a Nurse Quality Program Manager
  • Conduct unit audits
  • Participate in Stroke Certification, Joint Commission, or other accreditation surveys
  • Participate in a quality improvement project
  • Join hospital’s Nursing Quality Committee
  • Attend Enterprise Quality Council meeting
  • Serve as reviewer for local policies and procedures
  • Participate in a clinical case review
Infection Prevention
  • Shadow an Infection Preventionalist
  • Become a CAUTI/CLABSI prevention champion
  • Become a Blood Borne Pathogen Unit Specialist
  • Attend continuing education courses in infection prevention
  • Participate in infection control audits 
Care Management
  •  Shadow Care Manager or Social Worker
  • Learn about patient resources in the community
  • Participate in interdisciplinary rounds
  • Participate in discharge planning
Nursing Research 
  •  Complete CITI training and other requirements for conducting research at Cleveland Clinic
  • Obtain a research mentor
  • Explore research questions and develop a research proposal for IRB submission
  • Investigate PhD educational opportunities and requirements