When Linda Arsenault arrived at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, there were no certified neuroscience nurses – nurses who care for patients with brain tumors, strokes or similar conditions.

Some of the nurses who were interested in that kind of work thought the certification test was too hard – at least that’s what they had been told.

But Arsenault convinced them that the test could be passed, with the right preparation, which she took charge of providing.

“We had all been trying to get our certification in the field for years, but then we studied with her, and we all passed,” said Karen R. Richardson, a nurse who works with Arsenault at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, in Lebanon, N.H. “She has really supported our growth as nurses. She’s really been a great mentor to nurses here.”

Arsenault, a Sanford native who has spent more than 45 years in nursing, won national recognition recently for her career achievements – the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses Excellence in Clinical Practice Award.

Arsenault will receive the award at the association’s annual meeting in Baltimore, which will run through Tuesday.

“I was thrilled when I found out,” said Arsenault, 67, who spends her weekends in Sanford and plans to retire to Maine next year. “There is no greater honor than being recognized by your colleagues.”

Arsenault studied nursing at Mercy Hospital in Portland and worked there for a year before doing post-graduate work in Montreal. She worked as a neuroscience nurse in Chicago for 22 years before taking a job at Dartmouth-Hitchcock more than nine years ago.

As a clinical nurse specialist in the neuroscience unit, Arsenault coordinates and delivers care for patients with neurological injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, brain tumors, strokes or spinal cord injuries.

“It was an area that always appealed to me,” she said. “And it’s a complex area that’s always changing. I learn something every day.”

According to the description of the Excellence in Clinical Practice Award on the association’s Web site, nominees should “demonstrate excellence in practice and contributions to neuroscience nursing and are influential role models in neuroscience nursing.”

The letter nominating Arsenault, written by five of her colleagues, says that she is constantly “raising the bar for self-expectation and excellence,” and that her “ability to energize nurses to excel in their chosen fields is remarkable.”

“It’s nice recognition for what she’s done in her career,” said Richardson.

 

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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