NIHSS - NIH Stroke Scale

  • No Cost for Members
  • Non-Members $10
  • Valid for 1 to 2 years

COURSE FORMAT

Online

About

The National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) certification, developed by the American Stroke Association (ASA), American Academy of Neurology (AAN), and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), is available through the American Heart Association (AHA). This online training program helps nurses, emergency physicians, neurologists, clinical researchers, medical students, and other healthcare professionals learn or review how to administer the NIH Stroke Scale for the assessment of acute stroke.

Course Format

NIH Stroke Scale certification course modules include six groups (Groups A through F) and each group includes six patients. Students usually begin with Test Group A and work their way through the groups on an interval of 6 to 12 months. Evaluating one complete group is sufficient for a course completion certificate, then NIHSS certified providers use the additional groups to renew their certificate. Each test group is equivalent in size and scope, but the scenarios are different in each group to assure mastery of the stroke scale over time.

Overall, the program consists of instruction, demonstration, and certification. The objectives of the NIHSS certification course include teaching learners how to identify and assess neurological deficits in stroke patients. The course also teaches them to understand the measurement scale for quantifying these deficits and consistently apply appropriate scores to these deficits. They also learn to use the scale to assess changes in these neurological deficits over time.

  • Completion Time: It’s estimated that each course module will take 2 hours to complete.

  • Cost: Free for all American Heart Association members and $10 for all other registrants.

Each time a healthcare provider completes and passes a test group, they can automatically view and print their course completion certificate and continuing education (CE) or continuing medical education (CME) certificate, if applicable.

Online

Students must register for and view the NIH Stroke Scale certification course online. They progress through the course by clicking each active link beginning with General Information & Course Completion Instructions. The process includes watching instruction videos, patient demonstrations, and patient scenarios and completing the activity test group. After completing the evaluation survey, healthcare providers print their CME/CE certificate.

Certification

National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale certification is completed online. Healthcare professionals must rate a test group of three patients applying the stroke scale in case-based scenarios. They must not rate more than six items in a test group incorrectly or they will fail the course. Healthcare professionals who don’t pass the test at the end of a module can go back and review the training video, then retake the exam. Upon passing the module, they must provide feedback used for evaluation purposes before they can claim their CME/CE credits.

Renewal

Test Completion Certificates document compliance of NIHSS certification. These certificates are valid for up to one year. The initial test group (Group A) is valid for one year but renewable at 6 months. The remaining test groups are valid for 24 months but renewable after 12 months since most healthcare facilities require annual certifications. Therefore, after passing Group A, providers should wait 6 months before taking Group B. After passing Group B, they should wait 12 months before taking Group C, then take each additional module in 12-month intervals.

Continuing Education

The AHA is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) to provide continuing education for certain healthcare providers. As such, physicians and physician assistants can take up to 2 AMA PRA Category 1 credits for completing a test group and RNs can claim up to 2 CE hours.

As healthcare providers complete and pass a test group, they can automatically view and print their course completion certificate and continuing education (CE) or continuing medical education (CME) certificate. They can only claim CME/CE certificates once per test group (A through F), but they can print their certificates as many times as necessary. The date on the certificate indicates when the certificate was originally claimed.

Other Resources

The American Heart Association offers an additional stroke-related course that covers Stroke Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic, which takes about half an hour to complete. It also recommends further reading for NIHSS certification participants that includes:

Related Certifications

RNs who specialize in caring for stroke patients may want to consider Stroke Certified Registered Nurse (SCRN) credentials through the American Board of Neuroscience Nursing. SCRN certification is designed to promote excellence in stroke patient care among stroke nurses, including hyperacute, acute, post-acute, secondary, and preventative care.

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Frequently asked questions

Who do I contact with questions about NIHSS certification?

Questions about NIHSS certification should be directed to the AHA’s customer support center at 1-888-242-2453.

What are some certifications I can pursue after obtaining NIHSS certification?

You can pursue Stroke Certified Registered Nurse (SCRN), among others.

How much does NIHSS certification cost?
  • $10 for all registrants

  • Free for all American Heart Association Members

How long is NIH Stroke Scale certification valid for?

The NIH Stroke Scale certification for Patient Group A is valid for one year from the initial testing date, but the expiration for Patient Groups B - F is two years from the testing date. However, most healthcare facilities require annual certification. Therefore, you can take a new Patient Group every 12 months even if your current certification is good for 24 months.

What are the hardware/software requirements for taking NIHSS certification courses?

To complete the NIH Stroke Scale certification courses, you must have Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Windows 7 or above, the latest version of Firefox, or the latest version of Safari. Internet Explorer is no longer supported. You must also have Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Who is NIHSS certification for?

NIHSS certification is for all clinical staff involved in the care of stroke patients. The NIH Stroke Scale is a clinical assessment tool used to measure a patient's status after they've had a stroke. It's used during the patient's initial assessment and treatment and throughout their hospital stay. Emergency room physicians or nurses, inpatient nurses, neurologists, therapists, and other members of the acute stroke team may use the NIH Stroke Scale.