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Carey Heck PhD, CRNP, ACNP-BC, CCRN, CNRN  

Audubon, PA

Education:

BSN Villanova University (1987)
MS Health Education St. Joseph’s University (1994)
MSN University of Pennsylvania (1998);  PhD Villanova University (2015)
Post-Masters certificate Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Thomas Jefferson University (2016)

Awards/Honors:

Distinguished Dissertation award (Villanova University 2016)
Finalist, Teaching Excellence (Nursing Spectrum 2011)
Excellence in Neuroscience Education award (AANN 2010)

Vision for Neuroscience Nursing:

Today’s healthcare arena demands neuroscience nurses be prepared to meet challenges associated with a multifaceted often unpredictable environment. This is true from acute care to end-of-life care.  In the intricate world of neurosciences, advances in technology have the capability to extend life beyond what was possible only a few years ago. As a result, the decisions and treatments regarding healthcare options are necessarily more complex. It is indisputable that neuroscience patients require highly skilled nurses specially educated to manage technologies and treatments designed to address complex healthcare needs. Neuroscience nurses must also manage relationships and consequences that exist with these technological advances.

To positively effect change in this environment, neuroscience nurses must be prepared to improve outcomes, enhance communication, provide education, and be effective advocates.  Opportunities for learning across the continuum of care to support these efforts are essential. Professional and community programs that encompass not only the latest evidenced-based science but the spiritual and psychosocial factors that contribute to health restoration are examples of such opportunities.

My vision for neuroscience nursing is to prepare nurses to navigate the complex world of healthcare today, while never forgetting the patient beneath the technology. Neuroscience nurses who are highly skilled, competent, and provide compassionate care are instrumental in improving patient outcomes. They are advocates, teachers, and leaders in the field of neuroscience. Many of our colleagues are already doing this, many more are mentoring others to be great neurosciences nurses of the future. Our patients are the beneficiaries of this excellence.

Vision for the Association:

Identifying individuals with the time, energy, and talents to grow the organization and empower neuroscience nurses to positively influence patient and family outcomes is critical to maintaining AANN as a dynamic, diverse organization. Recruitment of those individuals who are ready and willing to participate in the governance of AANN is key. These individuals will share the vision of providing strong leadership to successfully advance the strategic plan of AANN and ensure that the organization continues as the leading authority in neuroscience nursing.

Development of innovative educational programs at the local and national level will prepare neuroscience nurses to meet the challenge of caring for neuroscience patients and their families. The role of community outreach cannot be understated and is an area I envision for continued growth in AANN. Programs dedicated to the prevention of neurologic injury in the community not only raise awareness but serve as recruitment tools for our profession. These programs offer opportunities to further advocacy efforts, expand our partnerships and alliances, and will secure the future of our specialty. 

Accomplishments in Professional Positions:

The pursuit of knowledge is commendable and should be encouraged at every opportunity. However, too often that knowledge is not disseminated. I believe dissemination of knowledge is crucial and seize every opportunity to share knowledge with others. Over my career, I have mentored novice nurses, regularly presented at professional conferences, published in peer-reviewed journals, and developed educational curricula for novice nurses and graduate students. I consider communication of knowledge gained to be one of my strongest professional accomplishments.   

As a neuroscience critical care nurse for over 25 years, my various roles have included clinical nurse, neuro-oncology clinical coordinator, nurse practitioner, clinical specialist, and most recently graduate faculty. In these roles, I have facilitated the transition of countless novice nurses to the complex and challenging world of neuroscience nursing while simultaneously providing education and support for experienced clinical nurses. These experiences led to my interest in the processing of moral distress among experienced and novice nurses and was the basis of my PhD dissertation. Significant findings in this research study were related to issues associated with medical futility and opportunities for improved interdisciplinary communication. These are not uncommon issues in the neuroscience care setting and have great implications for the neuroscience nurse.

Accomplishments in Leadership Positions:

As a member of the AANN Awards Committee from 2012-2016, recognizing the excellence of members was an extraordinary opportunity to appreciate the talents that exist within our specialty. As chair of the Committee from 2014-2016, committee updates were presented during leadership calls and deadlines were met in a timely manner throughout my tenure. Under my leadership, in concert with the Board liaison, the Committee reviewed the Mary Decker award and made recommendations for revision of the award due to a lack of qualified nominations. It is hoped that the new criteria will bring an increase in exceptional nominations for the 2017 call.  

As the lead of the neuroscience critical care education team my primary responsibility was the education of clinical nurses. Due to the expansion of the neuroscience program several years ago at our institution, an influx of novice nurses was hired to prepare for the anticipated increase in patient volume. To meet this need while ensuring quality care was provided, the neuroscience education team under my leadership redesigned the orientation program. In the first year of the program over 100 novice nurses were prepared to confidently care for the complex neuroscience patient. The program continues today and has been a model for other clinical units at our institution.

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