Every year during the third full week in May, the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses (AANN) celebrates Neuroscience Nurses Week (NNW) to honor all nurses who work in the field. To get more insight, we contacted Allison Begezda, MPS, senior marketing manager of the AANN. What follows is an edited version of our Q&A.
Why was NNW started?
Neuroscience Nurses Week was started to celebrate the nurses who care for the most vulnerable patients and their families. During NNW, AANN thanks our nurses for providing the highest level of quality care to their patients. The week is all about highlighting neuroscience nurses’ influence on patient care to hospital administrators, allied health professionals, and the community.
What kind of celebrations/recognition are held for this week? Why?
AANN encourages hospital administrators to celebrate their neuroscience nurses by providing lunch, cake, a party, or other recognition. We provide an activity planning guide on our website with tips and ideas for planning a NNW celebration. We also have a NNW logo and poster hospitals can print and use.
Additionally, we offer a proclamation template that hospitals can use to alert the media or that their local officials can use to endorse the observance of NNW. Our journal, the Journal of Neuroscience Nursing (JNN), also offers the current issue for free.
AANN has partnered with Jim Coleman Ltd. to offer branded neuroscience nurses week merchandise for sale. Hospital administrators can purchase pens, tote bags, t-shirts, and more for their nurses as a NNW gift. Learn more at www.AANN.org/NNW.
What are the various kinds of neuroscience nurses? What kinds of training or education do they need to have in order to hold this position?
Neuroscience nurses assist patients with brain and nervous system disorders. They work to understand and treat illnesses and injuries that affect the nervous system. Neuroscience nurses work in diverse, challenging, and rewarding environments, such as hospitals, health care clinics, brain injury units, and intensive rehabilitation units.
As for their education, neuroscience nurses have a nursing diploma such as an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and then must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). After two years of practice (candidate must have at least two years of full-time experience or 4,160 hours in either direct or indirect neuroscience nursing practice during the past 5 years), nurses are eligible to sit for the Certified Neuroscience Registered Nurse (CNRN) exam and upon passing become a CNRN.
While Catherine Browning, DNP, RN, PMHNP-BC, now works at the Arthur Center Community Health in Mexico—well, in Mexico, Missouri, that is—there was a time when she worked overseas. In honor of International Nurses Day, we asked her about her experiences. Here’s what she had to say (what follows is an edited version of our Q&A):
Catherine Browning, DNP, RN, PMHNP-BC, graduate of Chamberlain’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program
When you worked as an International Nurse, where did you work? When? What did your job entail?
I worked at a Psychiatric Nursing Faculty in Kuwait from 2001 – 2009. I worked at Kuwait University and I worked at the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training’s College of Nursing. My job entailed teaching BSN and ASN students, both Kuwaitis and Arab and African students of varying nationalities. I taught in the classroom, and I accompanied my students to their clinical settings in medical hospitals, clinics, and the state psychiatric hospital. I provided counseling to many people over the years, including many war victims.
Why did you choose to go overseas to work as a nurse?
For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to live and work on the other side of the world. As a child, I dreamed of being a nurse in Africa. Later, I had fantasies of being in the Middle East. I wanted to help people, especially those of other cultures. I knew I could learn so much from them and I wanted to offer what help I could. Though I dreamed of going there someday, that dream seemed far away for many years and almost unlikely to be achieved.
Was I in for a huge culture shock. Not only was the flight a grueling 17-plus hours, but once I arrived to the Kuwait airport, security questioned and detained me for hours. There were signs of military and security presence everywhere. After all, Saddam Hussein had only invaded Kuwait during the Gulf War 10 years previously.
Kuwait University had a rigorous schedule for me to follow during the week of visiting hospitals, meeting with colleagues and students, giving talks and interviews, and touring the psychiatric hospital. I was totally overwhelmed by the language, the heat, the intimidating men in flowing gowns and headdresses, and the somewhat antiquated hospitals. I almost talked myself out of working there and then the second to last day I toured the psychiatric hospital. I was terrified. I kept thinking, “How can I do this? I don’t understand the language. I am not familiar with the culture. How do I know who to trust and how can patients know it’s safe to trust me?” And then I stepped foot on the women’s psychiatric ward, and after that the men’s psychiatric ward, and suddenly I knew everything would be OK. I recognized the client’s symptoms and immediately knew how to interact with them non-verbally. I learned to ask for help, and I felt a great connection with the patients.
By the time I arrived back to America a few days later, there was an email awaiting me saying I was offered the job.
How was working as a nurse different there? What were the biggest challenges of your job?
Working as a nurse in the Middle East didn’t take all that much adjusting. I learned right away that nursing is nursing and the patients we serve and the professional nursing values we uphold are the same everywhere. As long as I remained true to what I know and believe about nursing, I was confident and comfortable in my nursing and teaching roles. The biggest challenge was learning to maneuver through the complex bureaucracy to finally get my housing and my salary and my health insurance set up. Those things took months and that was a stressful time.
What were the greatest rewards?
My greatest rewards of working in Kuwait were:
- Forming amazing, life-giving bonds with my students, their families, and new friends I grew to know and greatly respect and love. The Arab people were so kind and hospitable to me. They appreciated the wisdom and learning I had to share and so often I felt like I really made a big difference in someone’s life.
- Having whole new cultural and travel opportunities in that part of the world. I studied Arabic, listened to lots of Arab music, wore Arab perfume, burned Arab incense, grew to love Arab food, and shaped my life to be more and more like those living in the culture. I loved the hot, dry climate and my health was better than ever before. I traveled during my vacation time to most of the Arab countries. I was so excited to spend time in Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine/Israel, and the Gulf countries. I also got to know really well people from Africa and India, and I even traveled to India, which was another dream come true.
- The job provided more holiday time and greater income than I was accustomed to and that was very beneficial for my mental health. Having lengthy holiday and vacation time, in particular, really taught me the importance of resting, renewing, and enjoying life.
As part of National Nurses Week, we wanted to share some stories with you about how nurses have changed lives and gone beyond what some people stereotypically think: that nurses just take temperatures, clean bedpans, and give shots.
Nothing could be further from the truth…
“Healing Touch is an energy healing therapy used by trained nurses to balance the patient’s mind, body, and spirit, which assists the patient in self-healing. Healing touch was very successful on a patient who was screaming in fear and could not fall asleep. The nurse asked me to help the patient. Not only did the patient need sleep, but other patients in close proximity to his room would benefit too. After five minutes of healing touch, the patient was resting comfortably. Within 30 minutes, the patient was sleeping. No shot was needed.”
—Alissa Perrigo, RN, MSN, Largo Medical Center
A Different Perspective
“One of the best ways to connect with an infant is to get down on all fours yourself and see the world from your little one’s perspective. This empathetic response helps connect a young mom to a child’s early developmental processes, especially visual development. Even physically, when you’re on the floor yourself, it is much easier to imagine the strength that is needed for an infant to hold his head up, turn over, or begin to crawl and pull up.”
—Adelmis Granoderoro, RN, Visiting Nurses Service of New York, who helps first-time Suffolk County moms plan for and navigate the first year of their babies lives
Going Above and Beyond
“I recently began working with a nurse who partners with my office through our Accountable Care Organizations (ACO). She was working diligently to arrange home care services for our patient. The patient was discharged from a sub-acute facility and is currently living with her sister in a room. When visiting the patient at her home, the nurse noticed that the patient was unable to clean herself and her sister was unable to assist. The nurse asked if she could assist the patient, but the patient refused. The nurse knew the patient may develop skin breakdown and pleaded with the patient to let her help. The patient still refused.
“The nurse continued to work to arrange for home services for the patient. Each day, the nurse asked if she could come to help the patient until the services began. Finally, the patient agreed. The nurse, along with a colleague, went to the patient’s home to clean the patient. Upon arriving to the apartment, the patient was found lying in her waste. While maintaining the patient’s dignity, the nurse worked for an hour and a half cleaning the patient, as well as changing the linen and the patient’s clothes. Unfortunately, the patient had skin breakdown on several areas of her body. During the visit, the nurse spoke kindly to the patient educating her on what she can do to prevent further skin breakdown. Eventually, the patient received home care.
‘Christine’ went above and beyond the call of duty for our patient, during her critical transition from sub-acute to home care.”
—Melissa Richardson, DNP, RN, FNP-BD, nurse practitioner/nurse manager at Somerset Family Practice, part of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and clinical site supervisor at Monmouth University
Remember the school nurse? At the time, they were usually women, and especially when you were a little kid, she made everything seem better when you didn’t feel good.
In honor of National School Nurse Day, we spoke with Brenda L. Brooks, the district head nurse, school nurse-teacher, and coordinator of health services in the Hudson Falls Central School District in Hudson Falls, New York to find out more about what being a school nurse is like today.
What follows is an edited version of our Q&A.
As a school nurse, what does your job entail? What do you do on a daily basis?
We do just about everything. In a typical day, I’m coordinating sports physicals; I might instruct a first grader on hygiene, and then help a student with anxiety issues at the high school. School nursing is way more than band-aids and ice packs. We’re first responders to any sort of issue that happens on buses or outside school.
It’s also working with parents to coordinate medical care. For example, rashes. If a student comes in with a rash, it may need clearance from a doctor before we can get that student back to school. So we’re doing everything we can to get that student back in the classroom as quickly as possible. In all, it’s serving the whole student, and making sure students aren’t missing time from the classroom.
Why did you choose this field of nursing?
I’ve worked in several hospitals specializing in every department except OR/ER and mental health. I’ve also worked in a doctor’s office. When my kids came along, I realized that the part of nursing I liked the best was the teaching. So I went back to school and got my teaching degree and taught science for 15 years. But I felt like I wanted to make more of an impact in my district. When the head nurse job opened up, I jumped on it.
What are the biggest challenges of your job?
Resources are always a challenge—whether that’s staff or things for my students like lice kits, transportation to the doctor, clothing, toothbrushes, etc.
A large challenge for us is getting support from a student’s family. For example, if a student is prescribed an EpiPen, will their parents be able to afford it?
Going along with that, we face the challenge of the mental and emotional obstacles outside school. I have kids who want to be in school, but their parents have mental/emotional or physical issues that keep them from supporting their child. For example, I put in a NARCAN program in the school to get all our nurses and PE teachers trained to use the medication. I am working on district-wide strategies to address the impact of stress and traumatic events on the minds of our students.
What are the greatest rewards?
It’s a similar reward as when I was a teacher. It’s that moment when you’ve helped a student succeed. Now as a nurse, I’m helping their entire family succeed.
What would you say to someone considering this type of nursing work?
It’s demanding; it’s frustrating, and you’ll pull your hair out. But it’s so worth it. You make a HUGE impact. I tell my staff they’re the little stone thrown into the pond. You may not be able to see the waves far off, but you know you made an impact.
Is there anything else about being a school nurse that is important for people to know?
The most influential person in a student’s school life is their classroom teacher. But if kids are ill, worried about their parents’ health, are hungry, or don’t have clean clothes, they won’t be in that classroom. And many of those responsibilities fall on the school nurse. So we are serving many of the needs outside of class that are just as influential.
Established in April 2006, Transplant Nurses Day was created by the International Transplant Nurses Society (ITNS) in order to raise awareness about the tremendous contributions that transplant nurses make in the lives of their patients and the people with home they work. It’s held every third Wednesday in April—this year on April 19.
“The celebration recognizes the skill and commitment of transplant nurses around the world,” says Allison Begezda, senior marketing manager, ITNS. “Transplant Nurses Day is an opportunity to celebrate the contributions our nurses make to patient care, patient and public education, nursing research, and the profession of nursing.”
As part of the Transplant Nurses Celebration, ITNS holds an annual Transplant Nurses Day essay contest. They ask transplant patients to nominate their ITNS Transplant Nurse. This year’s theme was “My Transplant Nurse: Champion of Care,” and six patients submitted essays for consideration.
There are many types of transplant nurses, including transplant coordinators, surgical nurses, post-operative care nurses, research nurses, and more.
ITNS honors its nurses in other ways besides just on Transplant Nurses Day. The society also honors its members each year with two awards that are presented at the Transplant Nursing Symposium.
As Begezda says, with the Transplant Nursing Excellence Award, ITNS “recognizes that the role of the transplant nurse is unique and dealing with patients through the transplant continuum is often complex and challenging. ITNS recognizes a special nurse whose career has exemplified ITNS’s mission: ‘…promotion of excellence in transplant clinical nursing through the provision of educational and professional growth opportunities, interdisciplinary networking, collaborative activities, and transplant nursing research.’ The purpose of this award is to recognize an individual outside the nursing profession who has supported the efforts of ITNS and made an impact in the field of transplant nursing.”
With the Friend of Transplant Nursing Award, ITNS “wants to recognize a friend of the organization who has made an impact in the field of transplant nursing. ITNS recognizes that you do not need to be a nurse to make a difference. The purpose of this award is to recognize an individual outside the nursing profession who has supported the efforts of ITNS and made an impact in the field of transplant nursing.”
This year’s symposium will be held June 24-26. For more information, go to www.itns.com.