Entrance to hospital emergency department at St Vincent's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. The sign is red with the word EMERGENCY prominently displayed. It can be used to illustrate various healthcare, medical and emergency concepts, from afflictions such as stroke or heart attack, diseases such as HIV or cancer, and accidents such as road trauma or sporting injury.

A Clinical Nurse Leader in the urgent care setting is expected to provide a wide range of basic health care services and also ensure that the system in place continues to fulfill demands in a time-sensitive manner. An urgent care setting requires constant quality development and safety monitoring to improve patient health outcomes.


A Clinical Nurse Leader is expected to dedicate a majority of time to clinical care, while also exhibiting leadership qualities in ensuring patient safety and effective communication among staff. Some of the typical roles and responsibilities of a CNL in the urgent care setting include:

  • Perform clinical activities at an expert level while serving as a resource and a mentor within the organization.
  • Use evidence-based practices to reduce risks to patient safety, improve the quality of their experience and encourage closer team collaboration among staff.
  • Facilitate the culture of professional behavior, timeliness, efficiency and effectiveness, while educating other nurses on better ways to provide higher-quality patient care.


The salary of a CNL in the urgent care setting ranges from $79,000 to $115,000, depending on the professional background and location. A CNL in this practice area earns about $97,000 annually on average. (Note: Salary data collected as of 2016.)


A Clinical Nurse Leader is an advanced generalist educated at a master’s degree level; they are required to have an MSN from a program accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). They may also require a nursing license specific to the state in which they plan to operate.


Urgent care facilities or are often compared favorably to the emergency room. The settings are similar in that appointments are not made ahead of time. Instead, walk-in patients seeking immediate medical attention are seen and treated on a first-come, first-served basis (though of course serious conditions may take priority).

The main difference is that unlike emergency rooms, most urgent care facilities are not open 24 hours a day. As a result, urgent care clinicians often work fewer hours in a less stressful atmosphere.


Because it’s impossible to predict which patients will present themselves on any given day, CNLs working in urgent care need to retain a wide body of generalized knowledge to implement medical interventions for a variety of conditions.


Most urgent care facilities are relatively small operations, with approximately 10 employees — or even fewer, depending on the size of the patient population. This setting can be a great place to learn. As is the case with any small office environment, employees often develop skill sets outside of their initial job description.

Due to the fact that most urgent care facilities do not operate 24/7, many urgent care clinicians work part-time. This can be an asset for anyone looking for supplemental income or a flexible work schedule.