The neuroscience nurse deals with patients with many diagnoses but with one cause, a disruption or dysfunction of the nervous system. The neurological dysfunction could manifest as the inability to speak, motor problems, changes in perception, or cognitive dysfunctions. The neuroscience nurse may work in a clinic, a hospital, brain trauma units or a neuroscience ICU setting. Neuroscience nurses may work with patients who are fully comatose or with patients who are disoriented or combative.
Neuroscience Nurse Job Description & Scope of Practice
The neuroscience nurse will assess patients, administer treatments and medication following physician’s orders. This type of nursing will require not only the normal health assessments a nurse may perform but also assessing the patient’s level of consciousness.
The neuroscience nurse may see patients with a wide variety of patients in a single day, the diagnosis and prognosis for each can vary radically with the single consistent factor being they suffer from a neurological problem. They may help the patient dealing with persistent neurological dysfunctions, including head trauma, seizures and spinal cord injuries; to adapt to changes.
Depending upon the type of unit the neuroscience nurse is employed in, they may also care and support patients recovering from neurosurgery.
How to Become a Neuroscience Nurse
Nurses holding a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or Master level nurses are preferred by many Neuroscience nursing units. However, the neuroscience nurse will also require specialized training with patients with head traumas, and altered conscious states. Many nurses choose to do internship or volunteer work in neurology units in order to gain experience and help their resume.
Taking continuing education courses or an advanced degree in Nursing with a neuroscience specialization is an excellent way for a new nurse to enter the field. Special care units such as a neurological intensive care unit or head trauma units require the nurse be dedicated and well educated. The neuroscience nurse is a specialist but nurses may choose to specialize further and work with long-term care neuro patients or with neurological ICU units.
Neuroscience Nurse Education Requirements, Certification, and Schooling Programs
- Nurses with Bachelor or Master level nursing degrees are usually preferred in the neuroscience unit.The nurse must graduate from an accredited nursing school.
- The nurse must hold a current and unencumbered RN license.
- The CNRN examination is administered 3 times a year and the candidate for the test must have 4,000 plus hours of clinical experience in working as a neuroscience nurse.
- Certification is available but not required for the new neuroscience nurse but is an excellent way to prove expertise in neuroscience nursing which may help in advancing a nurse’s career. The American Association of Neuroscience Nurses (AANN) recommends certification for nurses working in the neuroscience field. Nurses who meet all certification requirements and pass an exam administered by the AANN receive a designation as a Certified Neuroscience Registered Nurse (CNRN). To be eligible to sit for the exam, applicants must possess two years experience as a full-time neuroscience nurse and 4,160 hours of practice in the five years prior to the exam. The exam is offered three times per year at various Computer Based Testing Locations (CBT). Although certification is not mandatory, but it is without doubt preferred by employers.
Neuroscience Nurse Salary and Career Outlook
The career outlook for a neuroscience nurse is excellent. The number of jobs for nurses is predicted to grow at the rate of 21% over the next 8 years.
The average neuroscience nurse salary for a four-year RN is around $70,000 per year. The salary depends upon the nurse’s education and specialty.