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Neurosciences Nursing

The Johns Hopkins Hospital Department of Neurosciences Nursing provides a rich environment of learning and professional growth. As an academic medical center, we embrace a multidisciplinary, collaborative commitment to excellence in patient care and advanced professional practice. Come and explore limitless opportunities with The Johns Hopkins Hospital Department of Neurosciences Nursing and acquire valuable knowledge and skills.

Learn more about:

Our Units

The continuum of patient care in the Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery spans critical and acute care units, including:

  • 24-bed Critical Care Unit (NCCU) – Zayed 3
  • 26-bed Acute Adult Inpatient Unit (Zayed 12 West), which includes a 6-bed Brain Rescue Unit (BRU)
  • 4-bed Pediatric Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (Bloomberg 10 South)
  • 26-bed Acute Adult Inpatient Unit (Zayed 12 East), which includes a 6-bed Adult Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (Zayed 12 East)

Our unit-based clinical nurse specialists, critical care nurse practitioners, certified wound care nurses, discharge planner, and educators provide support, mentoring and ongoing bedside staff education. Our shared governance structure with unit-based committees offers opportunities to share talents and professional growth. This participative model promotes an environment of team collaboration and autonomous nursing practice.

We are the department of choice if you are looking to become a neuro specialty nurse in areas such as:

  • Cerebral resuscitation
  • Management of cerebral edema and increased intracranial pressure
  • Hemodynamic instability
  • Management of airway and respiratory compromise
  • Spinal reconstruction
  • Monitoring abnormal electrical activity of the brain
  • Cerebrospinal fluid pressure monitoring in hydrocephalus

Nurse Orientation and Education Opportunities

  • Orientation for all new nurses within The Johns Hopkins Hospital Department of Neurosciences Nursing consists of formal classroom instruction plus 10 and a half weeks of professional nurse precepting. New nurse orientation includes:

    • Neurosciences Critical Care Unit (NCCU)
      • A combination of didactic classes plus weeks of precepted orientation
      • Critical care core classes in addition to NCCU specific classes
    • Zayed 12 East
      • A combination of didactic classes plus weeks of precepted orientation
      • Epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) education
    • Zayed 12 West
      • A combination of didactic classes plus weeks of precepted orientation
      • Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) classes
      • Brain rescue unit (BRU) education

    In orientation, you will also receive instruction on the technology you will encounter in daily practice, including:

    • Cerebrospinal fluid drainage systems
    • PCA pumps
    • Continuous renal replacement therapy
  • The Johns Hopkins Hospital Neurosciences Nursing Fellowship is a six-month specialty nurse training program in Neurology and Neurological Surgery for our newly hired neurosciences nurses.

    This program will provide you with both didactic and clinical skill-building opportunities. At the end of the program, you will have the foundation needed to attain specialty certification in neurosciences nursing.

    Within the fellowship program, your training will include:

    • Clinical topics in neurological and neurosurgical nursing
    • Trauma orientation
    • Leadership development
    • Observational experiences in the neurology operating room, neuroradiology, and ambulatory care
    • Shadow days with professional members of the multidisciplinary team
    • Participation in hands-on enrichment activities, including multidisciplinary patient care rounds

    For more information on Medical Neurology and Neurological Surgery Nurse Fellowship Program, please contact:

    Barbara Fitzsimmons
    Nurse Educator

    Nurses outside of Johns Hopkins who are interested in a Neurosciences nursing observation should contact the Institute for Johns Hopkins Nursing at 443-287-4745.

  • After two years in The Johns Hopkins Hospital Neurosciences Nursing Department, nurses are eligible to sit for the Certified Neurosciences Registered Nurse (CNRN) exam.

    A review course is offered annually to prepare you for the exam.

    As a Magnet hospital, certification is recognized and rewarded. Forty-two percent of our neuroscience nurses are certified and the Neurosciences Nursing Department holds the highest percentage of certified nurses within The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

  • Following orientation, developmental workshops are offered to all nurses in The Johns Hopkins Hospital Neurosciences Nursing Department for professional growth. Available workshops to enhance your career path include:

    • Clinical Topics in Neurosciences Nursing I
      This workshop offers a review of neuroanatomy and neurological assessment. Additionally, case studies on neurosurgical problems such as brain tumors, cerebral aneurysms, and degenerative spine disorders are discussed.
    • Clinical Topics in Neurosciences Nursing II
      This workshop focuses on various aspects of neurological diagnosis. Myasthenia gravis, seizures, and Guillain Barre Syndrome are a few of the diagnoses that are explored in this day-long offering.
    • Cerebrovascular Workshop
      This workshop provides an overview of the medical and surgical management of ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke.
    • Charge Nurse Workshop
      This workshop highlights the Charge Nurse’s responsibilities, managing emergencies, and conflict resolution. It also identifies institutional resources necessary to be a successful Charge Nurse. Clinical scenarios will guide interactive discussions.
    • Preceptor Workshop
      This workshop provides the preceptor with tools necessary to successfully orient and integrate the new nurse into the neuroscience care environment.
    • Neuro Academy
      This three-day program is directed toward the development of our experienced Nurse Clinician IIs and IIIs. This program provides education on evidenced-based practice (EBP) and affords Nurse Clinicians the opportunity to participate in a departmentally based EBP project of their choice.
    • Advanced Clinical Topics in Neurosciences Nursing
      This annual offering provides our experienced Certified Neuroscience Registered Nurses with the opportunity to be learn about cutting edge surgical techniques by Johns Hopkins attending neurosurgeons.

    Continuing Education certificates are provided for many of these courses.

Neurosciences Nursing Leadership

  • Kelly Caslin, R.N., M.S.N.

    Director of Nursing, Neuroscience and Psychiatry Nursing Departments
    Location: The Johns Hopkins Hospital
    Education: Towson University, B.S.N.; Johns Hopkins University, M.S.N.
    headshot of Kelly Caslin
  • Sandra Dearholt, M.S., R.N.

    Assistant Director of Nursing, Neuroscience and Psychiatry Nursing Departments
    Location: The Johns Hopkins Hospital
    Education: University of Maryland, M.S.; University of Maryland, B.S.N.
    headshot of Sandra Dearholt
  • Kelly L. Heffron, B.S.N., R.N.

    Neuroscience Nursing Coordinator
    Location: The Johns Hopkins Hospital
    Education: Towson State University, B.S.N.; Wicks Educational Associates, Inc., WOCN
    headshot of Kelly Heffron
  • Tenise Shakes, B.S.N., R.N., C.N.R.N.

    Nurse Manager, Zayed 12 West/Brain Rescue Unit
    Location: The Johns Hopkins Hospital
    Education: Coppin State University, B.S.N.
    headshot of Tenise Shakes
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