That title may sound lofty, but so far, the 21st century has been marked by dramatic changes in the way stroke care is delivered; it went from an essentially rehabilitative focus, to a true emergency. This timeframe coincides with the acceptance of evidence-based practice as the cornerstone of the nursing profession. This convergence of nursing professional growth and research-guided evidence has ignited a revolution in stroke care nursing.
Thanks to medical advances such as the clot buster, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) and clot retrieval systems, we have seen a dramatic improvement in stroke management. Nurses play a pivotal role in recognizing changes in the patient and coordinating care along with the other team members. Their knowledge about the anatomy of the brain and the care guidelines is critical to their ability to provide excellent care. Just as critical is their knowledge of “why” the care guidelines are what they are. When nurses understand the rationale behind their care, and that it will improve their patients’ outcomes, they’ll move heaven and earth to make sure they provide that care.
Healthcare is a challenging arena in which to work, but it can be exciting and rewarding too. The marriage of nursing care and medical innovations has set the stage for stroke care nursing to be the new frontier in neuroscience nursing. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing that your careful blood pressure management and astute neurological assessment resulted in your stroke patient having an excellent recovery from their stroke. As the technology continues to evolve, and the treatment options grow, there will be greater demand for competent nurses to care for this unique and growing population.
Nursing school curriculum has been notoriously light in neuroscience education. Most nurses graduate with only a rudimentary introduction to the vast field of neuroscience nursing. Since the early 2000’s and the “revolution” of acute stroke care, nurses have been racing to stay abreast of the changes in stroke care and their increasing educational needs. Hospitals certified as Primary or Comprehensive Stroke Centers need nurses who are educated and competent to care for their stroke patients. In response to this reality of a new subspecialty of nursing being born, in 2013 the American Board of Neuroscience Nurses developed a new certification that recognizes stroke nurse expertise – the Stroke Certified Registered Nurse (SCRN) certification.
So the time is right for a concise pocket guide for stroke care nurses. I was surprised to realize that such a resource did not yet exist. I designed this book, Fast Facts for Stroke Care Nursing: An Expert Guide in a Nutshell, to be a handy reference for busy nurses who may not have the time to read the myriad guidelines for stroke care. In addition, I am hoping it will prove to be useful as a study guide for the SCRN certification exam. Linda Littlejohns, the internationally known neuroscience nurse expert, wrote the foreword for this book and described it as a “succinct, yet comprehensive review of the evolution of our stroke patient management… appropriate for everyday use”.
Now do you see why this is the Century of Stroke Innovation? We can only imagine what developments are around the corner for stroke care. But if we’re smart, we’ll be ready to take care of these patients by arming ourselves with resources like this Fast Facts for Stroke Care Nursing guide.