Q&A With An Acute Stroke Nurse Practioner


1. What do you do in your role?

As the acute stroke nurse practitioner, my main role is to facilitate care coordination and urgent treatment during stroke alerts. When a patient arrives via EMS, I convene with the ER team and we meet the patient at the door for rapid triage and assessment of stroke symptoms. I perform a quick standardized neurologic exam on the patient and calculate an NIH stroke scale score, which objectively quantifies the patient’s neurologic deficits. I discuss the findings with the on-call neurologist and assist with treatment decision making related to neuroimaging and IV tPA (a medication that dissolves blood clots). If the neuroimaging show a blockage of a large blood vessel in the brain, I arrange emergent transport of the patient to the cath lab for an endovascular thrombectomy (a minimally invasive procedure to mechanically remove the blood clot from the artery in the brain). After initial emergency treatment, I manage the individual stroke workup for each patient and follow them for the duration of their hospital stay.

Does your job also have an educational component?

Yes, I provide on-going education to nurses and advanced practice providers regarding the care and management of both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke patients. This is done in a variety of settings, including formal classes, brief in-services, and shadow day experiences.

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What else do you do in your position?

I complete chart reviews, collect data, and track quality and performance metrics to promote improved patient outcomes and ensure adherence to Joint Commission Comprehensive Stroke Center requirements. Additionally, I assist with stroke-related research and help organize community events for stroke survivors.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

With rapid stroke treatment, we are able to change the natural course of the illness and effectively reduce brain damage, decrease disability, and preserve patients’ quality of life. So I’d have to say what I enjoy the most are the success stories and being able to positively impact the lives of patients and their families.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my free time, I enjoy relaxing on the beach, participating in outdoor sports/activities, traveling, and spending quality time with family and friends.