Jennifer Sulanke MS, RN, CNS, CNRN
BSN, James Madison University
MSN, Virginia Commonwealth University
2002 Employee of the Year-VCU Health System
Vision for Neuroscience Nursing:
Throughout my years, recruitment of nurses onto the Acute Neuroscience unit has been difficult. Many new graduate nurses exit school with the desire to specifically work in the ICU or to work with Pediatrics but not many nurses have the goal of wanting to care for the Neuroscience patient population. I believe that this has a lot to do with lack of exposure. As we know, caring for neuroscience patients can be physically and emotionally trying. But on the other hand, can be so incredibly rewarding!! Neuroscience Nursing is certainly never boring and the opportunity to master a variety of nursing skills and care are endless. We just need more opportunities to showcase the benefits of working with our population. It would be my hope that through increased education, intentional collaboration with Schools of Nursing and added mentorship opportunities, neuroscience nursing would become the end goal for many new graduate nurses.
Overall, Neuroscience Nursing will be the specialty that nurses choose and love.
Vision for the Association:
AANN will be THE organization that inspires and provides guidance and expert, evidence-based strategies and resources to the Neuroscience nursing profession and our caregivers to meet the very special needs of our patient population. AANN will advocate for the needs of our nurses and our patients to improve outcomes and bring awareness to others regarding the complexity of our needs. AANN will continue to set the standard for the care of the neuroscience patient population by empowering research and disseminating the findings and information to our nurses and caregivers. The Association will flourish in membership and make a very deliberate effort to attract seasoned and newer Neuroscience Nurses to the organization through our advocacy efforts and our mentorship opportunities. AANN will remain the leading neuroscience organization that providers rely on for continuing education and competencies. The Association will continue to collaborate with the American Board of Neuroscience Nursing to promote nursing certification.
Accomplishments in Professional Positions:
For the past 16 years, I have worked as the Nurse Clinician/Educator on a 34-bed Acute Neuroscience Unit and a 5-bed Epilepsy Monitoring unit at a large, urban Academic Medical Center. This is the same unit that I started my nursing career on 22 years ago. Many, many practice changes have occurred over the length of my career and my position has allowed me to lead the change, self-correct when needed and then facilitate success within my specific areas of practice.
My Master’s thesis and work focused on nursing recruitment. One of my greatest accomplishments in my career was the development of Nursing Summer Camp. This was an evidence-based practice project implemented with the VCU School of Nursing and VCU Medical Center Human Resources. For 17 years now, we have hosted middle school and high school students for a week of nursing career exploration. This collaborative and interactive project has been rewarding and fulfilling. Facilitating camp every summer still continues to be one of my favorite things to do at work!
I was also the Advancement Practice nurse that led 40 staff nurses through the evidence appraisal and implementation of a system wide dress code implementation. We translated the evidence and with findings based on the preferences of patients, created a dress code that allowed patients, families and other staff members to more easily identify who the nurse or other healthcare team member was in the environment. Our work was published in American Nurse Today!
Accomplishments in Leadership Positions:
I am a previous trustee and Past-President of the American Board of Neuroscience Nurses (ABNN). It was during my tenure at ABNN that the SCRN exam was developed. Following my ABNN tenure, I continued to serve ABNN as their representative on the Nominations Committee of the American Board of Nursing Specialties. I also served on the Nominating Committee for AANN.
I have presented numerous poster presentations at the annual AANN meetings over the year (please see CV for listing). I have served as an abstract reviewer for the annual AANN meeting for the past 3 years.
On a personal note, I have served as the secretary of the Clover Hill Athletic Association for the last 4 years. This is a non-profit, local youth athletic association in Chesterfield County, Virginia. I was also recently elected to serve as the Secretary for New Life United Methodist Church council. This position becomes effective January 2021.