Neuroscience nurses specialize in the care of patients with nervous system diseases and/or disorders. They help manage the disease processes as well as assist in rehabilitation. Some neurological disorders neuroscience nurses may help manage are:
- Brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson's disease
Neuroscience nurses specialize in the human neurological system. Those interested in this field of nursing should have an interest in in the functions of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. It is a difficult specialty in that neurological diseases and disorders can affect the other systems of the body. Moreover, healing and rehabilitation can sometimes take time, so a neuroscience nurse should have strong assessment skills and a lot of patience.
What Are the Education Requirements for a Neuroscience Nurse?
Those looking to become neuroscience nurses must first complete an accredited nursing program and obtain a nursing license. They can choose to earn an ADN or BSN nursing degree. BSN nurses have a broader range of opportunities, as they can pursue supervisory roles as well as become clinical nurse educators.
After completion of an accredited nursing program, successful completion of the NCLEX-RN is required for licensure.
Are Any Certifications or Credentials Needed?
Depending on where the nurse works, certification may be required. For example, a nurse working on a stroke unit or intensive care unit may be required to have certification in stroke care. Sometimes certification is not required, although a neuroscience certified RN demonstrates competency, commitment, and professionalism in the specialty.
The American Board of Neuroscience Nurses offers certification in neuroscience nursing as well as stroke care nursing. Eligibility criteria include:
- Have a current, active RN license
- Have provided direct or indirect nursing care in the field of neuroscience or stroke care for at least two years within the last five years.
Certification for neuroscience nursing or stroke care lasts for five years, and can be renewed either by exam or completion of continuing education units.
Neuroscience nurses can work in many different care areas. These include:
- Stroke units
- Intensive care
- Pediatric nursing units
- Operating rooms
- Clinical education
- Outpatient clinics
- Rehabilitation facilities
- Elder care facilities
Neuroscience nurses perform many tasks. These include:
- Performing physical assessments
- Performing neurological exams
- Assist with mobility
- Assist with activities of daily living (ADLs)
- Assist with physical rehabilitation
- Wound or surgical site care
- Medication management
- Assist physicians with procedures
What Are the Roles & Duties of a Neuroscience Nurse?
The roles and duties of a neuroscience nurse mainly focus on stabilizing and rehabilitating patients who have neurological disorders or suffer from a spinal cord or brain injury. Some roles and duties include:
- Assess and identify the needs of a neurological patient
- Collaborate with the healthcare team to implement medical or pharmacological interventions
- Evaluate a patient's response to treatment
- Offer comfort to patients and families
- Provide resources to patients and families to assist with the discharge process
- Document thorough and detailed information in the patients' medical records to track the healing process
Neuroscience nursing can be a challenging yet rewarding career. As medical technology evolves to better meet the needs of patients, neuroscience nurses are necessary in the care of patients undergoing procedures and treatments for their neurological disorders. According to payscale.com, neuroscience nurses can earn from $71,000 to $125,714 depending on their role — from staff RN to advanced RN practitioner. This also depends on state and city of employment, and any certifications held.
- American Association of Neuroscience Nurses
- American Association of Spinal Cord Injury Nurses
- Cognitive Neuroscience Society
- American Nurses Association
Neuroscience Nurse FAQs
Caring for patients with neurological disorders and disease processes can be very rewarding. Stroke Certified RNs and Certified Neuroscience Nurses have several differences.
Neuroscience nurses are trained in many different types of neurological disorders such as spinal cord injuries, epilepsy, strokes/TIAs, Parkinson’s disease, etc. The knowledge base is broader as neuroscience nurses can manage many different types of neurological disorders. They are trained to assess individual patient needs based on their diagnoses, create an appropriate nursing diagnosis, development and implement a plan of care, and evaluate the patient’s response to treatment. Additionally, they are trained to monitor for deviations in recovery or treatment based on the individual’s diagnosis.
Stroke certified nurses are more specialized than neuroscience nurses. They are trained (and certified) to care for patients who have experienced a stroke. There are many components to stroke care that nurses need to be skilled in. For example, the first few hours after a stroke requires frequent monitoring and consecutive neuro checks. Neuro checks for stroke patients are very specific and require special training. In other words, the neuro checks learned in nursing school are not sufficient to screen for stroke progression or recovery.
Although the roles differ slightly, there is overlap as well. For example, neuroscience nurses can also be stroke certified.