• Certifications and Licenses
  • NIHSS - NIH Stroke Scale

    • Free or $10
    • valid up to 1 year

    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 will 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. Healthcare providers 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.

    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.

    Online

    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.

    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

    Information on Renewing NIHSS Certification

    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 six 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 six 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.

    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:

    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

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

    Healthcare professionals completing NIH Stroke Scale certification 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. They must also have Adobe Acrobat Reader.

    Who should be contacted with questions about NIHSS certification?

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