Four M Health Fairview neuroscience nurses have been working hard since early this year to establish a local chapter of the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses (AANN). They received final approval to create the 10,000 Lakes Chapter in June – making it the only chapter in Minnesota – and hope to begin holding official meetings sometime this winter. The organizing nurses include Emma Venteicher, MS, FNP; Suzi Fuguet, RN, CNRN; William Majerus, RN; and Lindsey Grimmer, RN (who is no longer with the U).

Suzi Fuguet, CNRN

Getting the new chapter going was challenging. “It hasn't been easy doing this while nursing through a pandemic, but we believe this AANN chapter will give us an opportunity to unite nurses here in Minnesota,” said Majerus. “We had to wait for quite a while to get approval,” added Fuguet (pictured at left). “As a result, we will provide more educational opportunities in neurosurgery and neuroscience by creating both a new social and education network.”

Education and connection
Education and connection are the primary goals for the new group. “We will provide educational and networking opportunities for neuroscience nurses and advanced practice providers throughout the Twin Cities and beyond,” said Venteicher. “We hope to create exciting opportunities to learn, present on local and national levels, and build neuroscience nurses’ confidence.”

Confidence building is something that Venteicher experienced firsthand when she joined AANN as a student member in Boston. “I used to be incredibly shy,” she said. “I felt that in my role as a nurse, I could never do education or go further in my career because I didn’t have the required knowledge base. I worked with a clinical nurse specialist named Mary Guanci, who is now president of AANN, and she encouraged us to be part of the organization and find our own voices. It helped me blossom as a nurse.”

Encourage new graduates
The new chapter plans to hold large, biannual meetings; smaller get-togethers will eventually be added, as will the ability to earn Continuing Education Credits (CEUs). Membership is open to any neuroscience nurse in the Twin Cities and dues are $10 annually. “The chapter will enable neuroscience nurses throughout the metro area to connect with one another,” said Grimmer. “We’re also hoping to encourage new graduates to consider neuroscience nursing.”

Another goal of the new chapter is to encourage neuroscience nurses to continue their formal education. “We are trying to get more nurses to become stroke and neuroscience certified through AANN,” said Grimmer. “I’m stroke certified and want to get others involved in that.”

Emma Venteicher, MS, FNP

Venteicher (pictured at left) noted that, “In your own nursing unit, you can feel a little bit isolated. This is a great opportunity for communicating with nurses in your own organization and across the Twin Cities. It provides an opportunity to get you out of your comfort zone and explore your own passion for education, not only with your patients but also with other nurses. We also plan to invite other providers like neurosurgeons and neurologists in to give us educational presentations.”

Good for everyone
“It doesn’t matter how much experience you have, even if you’re a new graduate just getting started, you can benefit from being a member,” said Grimmer. “It’s good for everyone, regardless of where you are in your career.”

Majerus agreed, adding, “As Nelson Mandela said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ It's our goal in the 10,000 Lakes Chapter of AANN to provide educational tools for new graduate to veteran nurses to help them succeed in the neuroscience field. And ultimately translate this education to better care for our neurologic, trauma, and neurosurgical patient populations.”

The new chapter has a website that includes its mission: to provide networking and educational opportunities to a wide variety of neuroscience nurses within our communities. It also has a Facebook group page.

From the AANN website
A neuroscience nurse is a nursing professional that helps patients suffering from neurological problems. This can include injuries, such as head and spinal trauma from accidents, or illnesses, such as Parkinson's disease, meningitis, encephalitis, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis. AANN supports neuroscience nurses and their patients by providing continuing education and certification preparatory materials, disseminating information, setting standards, and advocating on behalf of neuroscience patients, families, and nurses. Learn more.