A certified neuroscience registered nurse’s duties involve caring for patients suffering from issues stemming from the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the nervous system. A certified neuroscience registered nurse assesses, treats, and cares for patients in a variety of facilities, including hospitals, clinics, and physicians’ offices. Conditions that certified neuroscience registered nurses can expect to encounter and treat include strokes, traumatic brain injuries, intracranial bleeding, paraplegia, quadriplegia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. Neuroscience nurses strive to meet the physiological, behavioral, cognitive and safety needs of the patient. Specific job duties may include administering tests and medicine, monitoring neurological activity, post-operative recovery, keeping accurate patient records and communicating and informing other medical staff of the patient’s condition.
A certified neuroscience registered nurse can expert to make around $67,000 per year, depending on geographical location, experience, and type of workplace.
Curriculum and Core Classes
The career path of a neuroscience nurse begins with obtaining an associate degree in nursing. These programs are widely available across the United States, with an estimated 1,000 associate nursing programs nationwide. Many options are available for onsite, online and both full- and part-time courses of study. In addition to fulfilling general education requirements, both associate and bachelor’s nursing programs focus on providing core content in patient assessment and care and lead to eligibility to sit for the registered nurse (RN) exam in the state of practice.
Some colleges and universities offer specialized neuroscience nurse education programs focused on neurological trauma, spinal cord injury, seizures, brain tumors, methods of neurological assessment and neurological anatomy and physiology. This course will typically last a few days and provide specialized knowledge to the RN pursuing a career in neuroscience nursing.
To become a Certified Neuroscience Registered Nurse (CNRN®), a candidate must first obtain unrestricted RN licensure in the United States and have a minimum of two years (4,160 hours) full-time experience in neuroscience nursing practice in the five years prior to applying. Once the application and fee is submitted and approved, the candidate may sit for the exam. The American Board of Neuroscience Nursing Certification offers the CNRN exam three times per year at over 200 testing sites across the country. The 220-question exam focuses on three areas: knowledge, interpretation, and problem solving and evaluation. The certification is effective for five years. After that period, the test must be retaken or documentation of the required continuing education credits must be submitted. The certification is not mandated to be a neuroscience nurse, but it does validate and substantiate the experience and expertise.
For neuroscience nurses who specialize in caring for stroke victims, the American Board of Neuroscience Nursing also offers an exam option for nurses who wish to become a Stroke Certified Registered Nurse (SCRN®). A candidate needs to have two years of direct or indirect stroke nursing experience in the five years prior to taking the exam. This exam is offered twice per year at testing sites across the country.
Programs to earn an associate degree in nursing usually take two years and bachelor’s degree programs typically take four years. Part-time courses of study extend the length of time of the degree program selected. After earning the RN licensure, a nurse must have two years (4,160 hours) of direct or indirect experience in a neuroscience nursing clinical setting in the five years prior to sit for the exam to become a CNRN.
Type of Certification: Certified Neuroscience Registered Nurse (CNRN)
Eligibility Requirements: Candidates must have a valid registered nurse license and two years of direct or indirect clinical experience in neuroscience nursing during the past five years. Direct experience includes any activities in which the candidate is specifically responsible for a patient, family or group. Indirect experience includes any activity in which he or she is in charge of staff or students in a research or consulting position.
Certification Process: Download the application from the website and fill it out in its entirety. Mail in the application before the deadline for one of the three testing windows. Once the application is approved, the applicant will receive confirmation via email from the testing company and will have the month-long testing window during which to take the exam.
Fees: $380 for non-members of the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses (AANN)
Renewal Process:The certification is valid for five years. Applicants can renew their certification by retesting or through one of these two continuing education options:
- two years of full-time (4,160 hours) practice in neuroscience nursing, plus 75 continuing education hours;
- two years part-time (2,500 hours) practice in neuroscience nursing, plus 100 continuing education hours.
Categories of acceptable neuroscience nursing continuing education credits include neuroscience nursing education, program or project activities, research, teaching, publication, and involvement in professional organizations.
Learn about other advanced practice nursing specialties.
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