We can’t resist a good healthcare pun, so we’ll start by saying neuroscience nurses (or neuro nurses) are some of the brainiest medical professionals out there! Broadly defined, neuro nurses attend to patients with brain conditions ranging from psychological disorders to traumatic brain injuries. Below, we’ll break down the different types of neuro nursing and their primary roles. If you’re interested in cerebral studies, there’s sure to be a nursing career path for you, depending on your core interests, personality and unique skill set.
What is a neuro nurse?
In general, a neuro nurse works in a team to treat patients suffering from any of the following conditions or illnesses:
- Nervous system dysfunction
- Brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Paraplegia and quadriplegia
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Intracranial bleeding
- Any other physiological or physical effects of a nervous system dysfunction
However, some specific roles have special focuses (and challenges) within the neuro nursing field.
Neuro ICU nurses, for example, put in the hard work of treating patients who have experienced trauma. As such, they often work with patients whose prognosis is not hopeful. In other words, any neuro ICU nurse’s resume should include soft skills such as empathy, resilience and stress tolerance.
Other neurology nurses may specialize in brain surgery or acute/long-term conditions.
Main duties of a neuro nurse
Let’s start with the basics tasks that neuro nurses perform:
- Assisting patients with daily life
- Performing physical therapy
- Caring for wounds
- Reading and interpreting test results
- Helping administer medications
- Performing physical examinations of patients
- Maintaining charts
- Providing pre- and post-operative care
- Communicating and educating patients’ families
Neuro ICU nurses have a bit of a different bag. Their daily tasks may include:
- Managing brain drains
- Measuring intracerebral pressure (ICP)
- Providing end-of-life care
- Assisting in the organ donation process
Where do neuro nurses work?
It’s good to have options, right? Neuro nurses work across various environments, both in and out of the hospital. These include:
- Private practices of neuro specialists
- Hospitals [intensive care units (ICUs), operating rooms (ORs) and brain trauma departments]
- Rehab facilities
- Patients’ homes
What skills should a neuro nurse possess?
Do you have what it takes to practice in this field? Check your natural abilities against the list of key traits below:
- Great communication skills
- Strong assessment skills
- Ability to react and adapt
- Technological skills
Become a neuro nurse by following these steps
If pursuing a career in neuroscience is a no-brainer for you, it’s time to hit the books. Here is what you can expect from your educational journey, which involves a certification.
Get your degree
All nurses, regardless of their specialization, must hold a college-level degree in the field. If you plan to become a neuro nurse, check your state’s requirements before choosing a nursing program. Some states accept an Associate Degree of Nursing (ADN), while others only accept the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. We recommend earning a bachelor’s if you’re still unsure of where your career journey will take you because it’s a more widely accepted base for advanced tracks and specialization programs.
The next step in any nursing career is to sit for (and clear) the National Council Licensure Examination–Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), after which you can seek licensure from your state and start practicing as a registered nurse (RN).
Get clinical experience
Hands-on experience is priceless, especially if you plan to pursue certification, so get started in a volunteer or paid nursing role in the field. Remember, to earn your certification, you’ll need to complete one year of experience working as an RN in your field.
Get your neuro nurse certification
This credential is essential. To practice as a neuro nurse, you’ll have to earn the Certified Neurological Registered Nurse (CNRN) designation, which is granted by the Board of Neuroscience Nursing upon passing their exam.
What about salary?
Let’s talk about compensation and job outlook. The field of registered nursing is growing across the board, and that means more job opportunities for neuroscience nurses.
In the United States, a neuro nurse’s salary is roughly $80,000 annually. Should you decide to specialize in ICU or critical care work, you can stand to earn a bit more. On average, a neuro ICU nurse’s salary is around $90,000 annually.
All nurses are brainiacs, even if they don’t work in the field of neurology. We’re here to make all that critical thinking you do a bit more comfortable by outfitting you in premium, comfortable scrubs to keep you looking and feeling your best while on the job.