As the need for nursing support increases, there are myriad opportunities for new and experienced nurses to advance their careers in specialties, such as oncology, the emergency room and even neuroscience.
Neuroscience is one of the most complex areas of study in the healthcare field. Nurses who pursue this specialty embrace the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of patients who are recovering from serious injuries and/or lifelong impairments.
What is a neuroscience nurse?
A neuroscience nurse treats patients with neurological injuries and disorders, including head and spinal trauma from accidents, or illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. It’s important for these nurses to have a firm understanding of how the nervous system works and how it can affect both the mind and the body.
Patients struggling with a neurological disorder or injury can behave unpredictably. Neuroscience nurses need to be strong, patient and compassionate communicators in order to help patients with chronic or long-term disabilities learn how to live with and manage their situations.
What do neuroscience nurses do?
Neuroscience nurses are involved in many aspects of patient care, including assessing, diagnosing and treating patients. Many neuroscience nurses are part of the neurological unit at a hospital, but they can also work for rehabilitation facilities, homecare agencies and neuroscience specialists.
As a neuroscience nurse, you might be involved in:
- Performing physical assessments and neurological exams
- Daily living assistance
- Physical rehabilitation
- Surgical or wound care
How do I become a neuroscience nurse?
Think you might be interested in becoming a neuroscience nurse? Follow these five steps to help make it a reality.
- Earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing: The Bachelor of Science in Nursing is quickly becoming the new educational standard for nurses, as it offers more opportunity for employment.
- Become a Registered Nurse (RN): If you’re not already a registered nurse, you will have to pass the NCLEX-RN exam, then apply for opportunities in neurological treatment and care. Be sure to use these NCLEX study tips as you prepare for the exam.
- Immerse yourself in the world of neurological nursing: Volunteering with a neurological unit at a hospital or specialized facility can help you get first-hand exposure to what neuroscience nursing is all about. You can also demonstrate your commitment and passion to continued education and patient care, both of which can help differentiate you from other candidates if you choose to pursue a neuroscience nursing career.
- Become a Certified Neurological Registered Nurse (CNRN): If you want to become a certified neuroscience nurse, you will have to sit for the Certified Neuroscience Registered Nurse (CNRN) exam, which requires at least one year of neurological nursing experience as an RN. The American Board of Neuroscience Nursing, which administers the exam, has many helpful resources for preparing for the exam and continuing your neuroscience education.
- Recertification and advancing your career: You’ll need to regularly renew your nursing license and CNRN certification. You can take it one step farther and consider a Master of Science in Nursing for positions as a nurse practitioner or nurse educator, giving you the opportunity to position new nurses for success and help shape the future of patient care.
How much does a neuroscience nurse make?
The average salary for a RN is $70,000 per year, or about $33.65 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics—and the average salary for a BSN will be higher compared to a nurse with only an associate’s degree. Your pay will be dictated by the state you work in, your place of employment, and the relative demand for the neuroscience specialty in your area.
Earning your Bachelor of Science degree in nursing means you may also pursue graduate nursing programs to become more qualified in your specialty and pursue jobs in management or administration.