There are many challenging specialties you can pursue in the field of nursing, neuroscience nursing being one of them. Neuroscience nursing has become a broad specialization, with these nurses helping patients who may suffer from neurological disorders, brain tumors, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, in addition to patients who have suffered spinal cord injury or head trauma. A neuroscience nurse must have good assessment skills, and also provide care for patients before and after neurosurgery. They also educate the patients about their illness or disorder with instructions and treatment plans to aid their recovery or adjust to their conditions.
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Do you have your nursing degree and license yet? The first step toward the neuroscience nursing specialty is finding the right nursing program for you, so that you can become a licensed, registered nurse. You can do this in a few different ways. You can enter a college or university program and earn a four-year bachelor’s degree in nursing, which most often makes you more competitive in your job search. However, you could also earn a two-year associate degree from a community college, with the option of transferring to a four-year college when you are done. Alternatively, you could also earn a nursing diploma from a participating hospital nursing program, although this option is less common these days with the higher number of associate programs. Whether you earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), you will be eligible to work as a registered nurse once you pass your licensing exam. The licensing exam is given by your state’s board of nursing, and is called the NCLEX, which stands for the National Council Licensing Exam. Once you have your degree and pass your exam, you’ll be ready to start your career and gain experience, or pursue any specialty training in neuroscience.
Certification is also possible for those entering neuroscience nursing. Unlike becoming licensed, certification as a CNRN (certified neuroscience registered nurse) is voluntary. However, it is highly recommended by professional organizations as well as employers of neuroscience nurses as it not only better prepares you for your job, but proves to the potential employer that you are qualified and serious about neuroscience nursing. Earning this credential shows your dedication to keeping up with developments in the field, and your mastery of accepted nation-wide standards. The neuroscience nursing certification exam is administered and managed by the American Board of Neuroscience Nurses (ABNN). You can take a pencil based exam or a computer based exam, and it must be renewed every five years. The eligibility requirements are two years of neuroscience nursing experience, which can include nursing in clinical practice, or with researchers, educators, or consultants. Please, visit the American Board of Neuroscience Nurses website if you are at this stage in your career to learn more about becoming a certified neuroscience registered nurse.
According to salaryexpert.com, neuroscience nurse salaries in mid-size and major cities can range from $63,859 to $71,891. The outlook for neuroscience nursing jobs is also very good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites nursing as one of the fastest growing professions, and neuroscience nursing is a field that is continually growing as the medical field continues to research and learn more about the brain and nervous system. If this is an area of nursing that interests you and you are up for the challenge of a nursing career that will involve a lot of learning opportunities as well as challenges, then get started on finding the right nursing program for your future depending on what educational background you have presently. If you are already in a nursing program or are currently a practicing registered nurse, you could simultaneously pursue neuroscience electives online while completing your degree.
Additionally, check out the American Association for Neuroscience Nurses and one of their many state chapters for more information on this career. Professional societies are often offer networking opportunities, conferences, and up-to-date information on developments in the field. This can be a great resource both before and after you earn your degree.
(Sources: American Association of Neuroscience Nurses, Neuroscience Nursing Foundation)