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Neurological Disorders

Neuroscience Nursing Provides Specialized Care to Those in Need

Tracey Anderson, MSN, CNRN, FNP-BC, ACNP-BC

Trustee, American Board of Neuroscience Nursing (ABNN)

What are the core steps to becoming a neuroscience nurse?

You must first complete a nursing program and obtain a nursing license. You can earn an ADN or BSN degree. After completion of an accredited nursing program, you must successful complete the NCLEX-RN, which is required for licensure.

Neuroscience nurses are needed along the entire spectrum of care, whether in an acute setting, such as a hospital, an outpatient setting, such as a clinic or outpatient rehab, or in an inpatient rehab setting. Nurses gain experience and develop expertise through mentoring from seasoned nurses and nurse practitioners.

To be eligible to sit for the Certified Neuroscience Registered Nurse (CNRN) exam, nurses must have at least one year of full-time experience caring for patients with neurologic diagnoses. Those working within the stroke specialty sit for the Stroke Certified Registered Nurse (SCRN) exam. Achieving certification is a significant accomplishment, distinguishing nurses from non-certified peers by demonstrating expert level knowledge in caring for neuro patients.

What certifications are required?

For nurses working within the neuroscience specialty, the certifications required will vary depending on the hospital and their specific focus of care. For hospitals who receive Magnet credentials by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), certification of nurses is a key factor.

The CNRN is a more encompassing credential and may be more appropriate for those working in a general neuro unit or Neurosurgical ICU, while those solely focused on stroke care will likely be required to obtain the SCRN credential. Many nurses choose to obtain both the CNRN and the SCRN, showcasing their dedication to their specialty and commitment to their patients and their families.

CNRN and SCRN certification are offered by the American Board of Neuroscience Nursing (ABNN), lasts for five years, and can be renewed either by exam or completion of continuing education hours.

What is the most rewarding part of being a neuroscience nurse?

Neuroscience nurses make an impact and influence patient lives in ways that are not possible in other nursing specialties. They are involved in all phases of care and are often the difference between life or death. Whether guiding a patient and their family through a daunting new diagnosis, witnessing a patient regain functionality throughout their recovery, or supporting a family through difficult decisions about care and next steps, bonds are often formed that last long after the need for care has passed.

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