Defining Neuroscience Nursing

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Excerpt

Each month, the Journal of Neuroscience Nursing (JNN) receives a wide variety of article submissions from a diverse group of authors. The JNN submission process includes writing a cover letter. Without fail, at least half of the cover letters will include a statement similar to “…we believe that this article will be of interest to neuroscience nurses….” Sometimes, it is very clear to me exactly what, why, and how the article fits JNN. Sometimes, I find myself wondering what the authors mean when they write “neuroscience nurses.”
Across the globe, individuals are struggling with conversations about identity. Are we all the same? Are we all different? Are there similarities and differences that are important? Nursing has also struggled with conversations about identity. Is the nursing profession an art, a science, or both? Nursing struggles with terms to identify ourselves as separate but integrated: registered nurse, nurse practitioner, advanced practice nurse, and nurse anesthetist.
I like to think of neuroscience nursing as the process of care. If you are teaching about preventing neurological injury or illness, you are a neuroscience nurse. If you are providing care to a patient with neurological illness, you are a neuroscience nurse. If you care for patients and care partners after they have experienced a neurological event, you are a neuroscience nurse. If you conduct research, provide management services, or facilitate quality improvement for neurological diseases, you are a neuroscience nurse. Even if you are not a nurse, if you know or work with neuroscience nurses, then you have something to contribute to the profession of neuroscience nursing.
In 2018, the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses and JNN will celebrate their 50th anniversary! This is a huge milestone, something that the entire neuroscience nursing community should be proud to celebrate. However, what exactly defines neuroscience nursing, and where does JNN fit in the big picture? First and foremost, JNN is an association journal for the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses. However, JNN is not only for nurses; the journal is one of many mechanisms vital to improving the care of patients with neurological illness and injury.
For the first 17 years (1969-1986), JNN was the Journal of Neurosurgical Nursing. In the first issue of 1986, the journal changed its name to more accurately embrace the many different practice areas that define neuroscience nursing. Then Editor Barbara Krajewski wrote of opening JNN to a broadened audience.1 Later that year, Ellen Barker defined neuroscience nursing as “the specialized care of individuals who have actual or potential biopsychosocial alterations due to nervous system dysfunction.”2 Additional emphasis and clarity were provided by a collaborative article on professional practice for neuroscience nurses in which the authors defined neuroscience nursing to include the continuum of care across age and not defined by hospital walls.3
There have been many milestones during the past 50 years. In 1988, JNN added Pharmacology Updates (starting with vasopressin for diabetes insipidus).4 In 2013, JNN began publishing Executive Summaries.5 During the first 49 years, JNN has published just over 2300 articles. In our 50th year, we will highlight the contributions from many professionals across the globe who have helped to move neuroscience nursing forward. I hope to add your name to the growing list of authors who have contributed to our success.
The Editor declares no conflicts of interest.
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