The third week of every May (this year May 14-20) is dedicated to Neuroscience Nurses Week in recognition of and tribute to neuroscience nurses and the work they do.
Neuroscience nurses work with patients who have a range of health conditions or injuries that are related to the brain. Patients in the care of neuroscience nurses might have received a traumatic brain injury in an accident, may be recovering from a stroke, could be navigating brain cancer treatment, or may have a neurologically based condition such as multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer’s disease. The specialty treats a conditions that impact all ages of patients so they must be ready to care for issues as diverse as ALS or seizures to migraines.
The American Association of Neuroscience Nurses sponsors Neuroscience Nurses Week and is an excellent resource for nurses who work in the specialty or those who are considering this career path. Nurses in this specialty are drawn to the practice because it offers such variety of nursing challenges and opportunities. Because brain illness and injury isn’t relegated to one age group, nurses can treat across the lifespan or can focus on an age range they are particularly drawn to.
Nurses in brain-related specialties also have options for work locations. Their skills are needed in rehabilitation or long-term care centers and in physicians’ offices. Neuroscience nurses will also work in the operating room, trauma units, or the ICU.
The brain’s complexity is unsurpassed, and neuroscience nurses are fascinated by how the brain controls all the body systems. They are driven to provide the best care and find the best treatment plans for each patient. Nurses who work with these patients are highly detail oriented so they can notice the smallest changes in a patient’s condition or responses. They are also adaptable as the challenges for patients can change daily or even throughout the course of a single day. They will tolerate the frustration or fear from patients and also share the joys of their progress. The role is fast-paced and never the same.
Each patient will have a different experience with treatment and recovery and will have access to varied resources to help them heal. Nurses are there as advocates to help patients manage symptoms, which can be as overwhelming as learning how to do daily tasks or manage with reduced mobility or function. They will help families of patients navigate the complexities of home care so they have the tools to support their loved one.
Certification through the American Board of Neuroscience Nursing is an essential tool for nurses who want to remain current in the fast-changing field. Gaining this credential helps nurses gain the latest knowledge, and it also signifies to the community that they are an expert in this field of nursing. Nurses can choose to be a Certified Neuroscience Registered Nurse (CNRN®) or receive a Stroke Nursing Certification (SCRN® ). Some hospitals and workplaces offer courses to help nurses, who will already have the required work experience hours, prepare for the certification exams.
Whether you are a neuroscience nurse or thinking about moving into this specialty, the need for nurses in this field continues to grow and job prospects are good.