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  • Virginia Prendergast, PhD, ACNP, CNRN

    Neuroscience Nurse

    Virginia Prendergast, PhD, is internationally recognized for her work and leadership in neuroscience nursing education, research, and the care of neurosurgical patients. Her clinical activities have focused on bedside assessment and care, and have included the development of a preoperative skin and hair protocol, a comprehensive oral care protocol to promote oral hygiene and patient comfort, and the development of educational programs that span the continuum of expertise from novice to expert neuroscience nursing.

    Beginning as a staff nurse in the neurosurgical intensive care unit, Dr. Prendergast’s tenure at Barrow has covered more than 30 years. Her passion for excellence in neuroscience nursing motivated her professional growth into leadership roles, and she serves at the Director of Barrow Advanced Practice Nursing and Evidence-based Research. In 2004, she developed a formal educational program at Barrow to support nurses preparing for the Certified Neuroscience Registered Nurse (CNRN) examination. This program remains in place today. As a result of her leadership in this arena, Barrow holds the distinction of employing the most CNRN nurses of any hospital in the country.

    Dr. Prendergast’s teaching achievements and dedication to patient care have also commanded national and international recognition and awards. She has been invited as a guest lecturer to conferences and nursing schools throughout North America, China, Japan, and Europe. She has served as a mentor to graduate nurses in cities as far-flung as Sydney, Singapore, London, Copenhagen, Berlin, and Tokyo, as well as for nurses throughout North America. She has received the Nursing Spectrum national award for Excellence in Teaching and was honored for her dedication to patient care by the Phoenix Business Journal. The neurosurgical resident staff has twice honored her with the “BNI Nurse of the Year” award.

    Dr. Prendergast served as president of the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses in 1998 and is the President of the World Federation of Neuroscience Nurses. She was one of the founders of the Neuroscience Nursing foundation, a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to nursing education and research.

    Education & Training
    • PhD, University of Lund, Lund, Sweden, Health Science from Medical Faculty
    • MSN, Arizona State University, 1988
    • Graduate Neuroscience Nursing Program, Certificate Program, Barrow Neurological Institute, 1987
    • BSN, College of St. Theresa, Winona, Minnesota, 1978
    Professional Memberships
    • World Federation of Neuroscience Nurses
    • American Association of Neuroscience Nurses
    • International Cochrane Collaboration Oral Health Group, London, England
    • American Nurses Association
    • American Association of Neurological Surgeons
    • Sigma Theta Tau, National Honor Society for Nurses
    • American Association of Critical Care Nurses
    • Editorial Board Member, Journal of Neurological and Neurosurgical Nursing
    • Editorial Board Member, World Journal of Critical Care Medicine
    • Editorial Board Member, Journal of Neurocritical Care
    Honors and Awards
    • Neuroscience Nurse Hero Award, Arizona Nurses Association, 2011
    • Finalist, Healthcare Leadership Award, Arizona Business Magazine, 2011
    • Finalist, Healthcare Hero Award, Phoenix Business Journal, 2006
    • Nurse of the Year, Barrow Neurological Institute, 2006, 2004
    • Nursing Excellence Awards: Teaching. Awarded by Nursing Spectrum & Nurse Week for Mountain West Division, 2005
    Selected Publications
    1. Prendergast V, Jakobsson U, Renvert S, Hallberg IR. Effects of a standard versus comprehensive oral care protocol among intubated neuroscience ICU patients: results of a randomized controlled trial. J Neurosci Nurs. Jun 2012;44(3):134-146; quiz 147-138.
    2. Prendergast V, Hagell P, Hallberg IR. Electric versus manual tooth brushing among neuroscience ICU patients: is it safe?Neurocrit Care. Apr 2011;14(2):281-286.
    3. Prendergast V, Hallberg IR, Jahnke H, Kleiman C, Hagell P. Oral health, ventilator-associated pneumonia, and intracranial pressure in intubated patients in a neuroscience intensive care unit. Am J Crit Care. Jul 2009;18(4):368-376.
    4. Masferrer R, Prendergast V, Hagell P. Colored pain drawings: preliminary observations in a neurosurgical practice. Eur J Pain. 2003;7(3):213-217.
    5. Prendergast V, Sullivan C. Acute spinal cord injury. Nursing considerations for the first 72 hours. Crit Care Nurs Clin North Am. Dec 2000;12(4):499-508.

    About Barrow Neurological Institute

    Since our doors opened as a regional specialty center in 1962, we have grown into one of the premier destinations in the world for neurology and neurosurgery. Our experienced, highly skilled, and comprehensive team of neurological specialists can provide you with a complete spectrum of care–from diagnosis through outpatient neurorehabilitation–under one roof. Barrow Neurological Institute: Discover. Educate. Heal.