As you explore different nursing jobs and try to decide where you want to work, have you thought about becoming a Neuro ICU nurse? This job requires a lot of patience, dedication, the ability to learn new concepts quickly, and compassion.
Let’s look at this position in detail and explore more about it. We will explore everything about it – from the responsibilities to the salary and the nursing assessments.
You will be able to make an educated decision about whether to work towards this as your goal.
What Is A Neuro ICU Nurse?
Other names for Neuro ICU nurses include neuro nurses, neurocritical care nurses, and neuroscience nurses. A neuroscience nurse works with patients who are suffering from neurological problems.
A neuro ICU nurse is a neuroscience nurse that works specifically in the Intensive Care Unit. You might have also heard it called neurocritical care nursing.
Neuro ICU Nurse Salary
How much a neuro ICU nurse earns will depend on where they live and the type of hospital in which they work.
According to Glass Door, the national average salary for a neuro ICU nurse in 2019 is $55,529 per year. This can vary widely depending upon your geographical location and local healthcare market. Typically, new graduate nurses are all paid the same rate at a healthcare institution – working in high-acuity specialty areas like neurocritical care are not compensated differently.
Types of Patients Neuro ICU Nurses Experience
One of the main things that set this job apart from other nursing jobs is the type of patients they care for.
Their responsibilities are to help patients who are in critical care suffering from some sort of neurological disease, trauma, or problem.
Some of the types of neurological problems they help with include:
- Stroke victims – including hemorrhagic or ischemic
- Brain Tumors – there are many kinds of tumors, but neuro ICU nurses will specifically work with patients after tumor resection or when the tumor gets large or invasive enough that it’s causing deficits
- Head trauma – including gunshots and blunt force trauma
- Disease – including things like meningitis or Guillain Barre Syndrome that is impacting respiratory integrity
Due to the critical nature of these problems, the neuro ICU nurse will experience a lot of death and dying as well. Neuro patients are unique in that typically neuro disease processes requiring intensive care monitoring typically happen very abruptly and suddenly, leaving patients and loved ones in a state of shock.
Neuro ICU Nurse Responsibilities
The responsibilities of a Neuro ICU nurse are very similar to a critical care nurse. The only difference is a neuro nurse oversees and helps with very specific patients who have neurological issues.
To get a basic understanding of an ICU nurse’s responsibilities, read my post “What do ICU Nurses Do?” It’s a really in-depth look at what a normal shift is like for this job, from beginning to end.
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Below are some responsibilities that are specific to neuro ICU nurses.
For example, when neuro patients do poorly it won’t be evident in the vitals. Vital sign changes are late. So you have to perform specific neuro assessments anywhere from every 15 minutes to every 2 hours, depending on the patient’s needs.
In addition to that, this nurse is also responsible for communicating with providers and other healthcare team members, as well as families about their loved ones and the patient themselves.
In fact, communication with everyone can be trying and difficult. An ICU nurse explains complex medical conditions to laypeople, many of whom have little experience or previous understanding of healthcare.
Other responsibilities that are specific to a neuro ICU nurse include:
- Manage drains directly in the brain – including extraventricular drains (EVD)
- Measuring intracerebral pressure (ICP) with a bolt or EVD
- Completing thorough neurological assessments to both conscious and unconscious patients
- Managing emotional distress with family members
- Assisting in the end of life care
- Overseeing organ donation and procurement
- Facilitating brain death testing
Neuro ICU Nurse Nursing Assessment
Doing nurse assessments on neuro patients are much different than other patients. You can’t rely simply on the vital signs or pupillary changes.
I have a thorough post that explains every single step or doing assessments on neuro patients. Read my article “How to Assess An Unconscious Neuro Patient Like a Neuro ICU Nurse.” You will be so glad you did. It breaks down every step of the assessments, including how to educate and inform the family members.
Here’s a video I made that explains how to do Neuro ICU Nursing assessments.
Critical Care Nursing
It takes a really strong person to dedicate their lives to caring for patients in critical care, and even more for those with neurological problems. A neuro ICU nurse is a caring, detail-oriented, and calm person who is able to handle critical situations efficiently.
It takes a very specific kind of person to work with so much death and dying and it isn’t an easy job. But it is also incredibly rewarding when you experience people coming out of critical care and healing.
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