Rehabilitation Nurse

Rehabilitation Nurse Job Description & Scope of Practice
The rehabilitation nurse assists patients who are undergoing physical rehabilitation after serious injuries, illnesses, and surgeries.  Rehab nurses help patients and their families learn how to deal with their physical limitations.  These nursing positions are very demanding both physically and mentally since you’ll be working with many patients who have long-term or chronic illnesses.

Physical rehabilitation begins very quickly after surgery or injury to help patients heal as fast as possible.  Nurses in this field work closely with the doctor or surgeon to assess a patient’s needs and develop a recovery plan.  The rehab nurse is a very rewarding job as it helps patients reach their physical goals.

How to Become a Rehabilitation Nurse

Nurses who want to specialize in the area of rehabilitation patient care must first become registered nurses.  This is best accomplished by achieving an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN).  The position requires a strong balance between education and experience.  Some hospitals and rehabilitation centers offer on-the-job training that can be combined with your education to improve your opportunities.  It is helpful to enroll in a nursing program that specializes in rehabilitation nursing.  Take a nursing position at a rehabilitation facility or hospital to get some experience working in the rehabilitation department.  Nurses may join the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN).  This group provides information, support, and education to members who are certified in the area of rehabilitation.  ARN has chapters across the country as well as an online presence.

Rehabilitation Nurse Education Requirements, Certification, and Schooling Programs

Rehab nurses may graduate from specialty or two-year programs with a focus on rehabilitation or may graduate from a 4-year program to attain a Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN).  Students should take courses with an emphasis on rehabilitation and physical therapy.  There are many facets to being a specialty nurse.  During your undergraduate studies it is helpful to take courses in rehabilitation science to learn as much as possible about the different areas of patient rehabilitation that you may choose to concentrate on.  Once you have graduated from a nursing program you will need to become a licensed nurse by passing the NCLEX-RN exam.  After gaining some experience working as a nurse, you may choose to take the exam to become a Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN).

Rehabilitation nurses are certified through the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN) via the Rehabilitation Nursing Certification Board (RNCB). After meeting certain requirements and passing a certification test, only then can you receive and use the CRRN credential. Qualifications include two years experience working as a nurse in rehabilitation or one year experience coupled with a year of advanced study in rehabilitation nursing. The exam covers topics such as models and theories, functional health patterns, assessments, assessing activity tolerance and anatomy among others. Nurses do not have to be certified to work as a rehabilitation nurse, but certification validates knowledge and skills.

Rehabilitation Nurse Salary and Career Outlook

The outlook for all types of nurses is expected to increase in the coming years.  As with other types of nursing positions, the medical profession will be expanding and the need for nurses of all types will be expanding with it.  The need for CRRNs will likely increase at a faster rate than the need for general nursing positions will.  The expected yearly salary for a qualified nurse ranges from $60,000 to $72,000.  Those nurses with special certifications and extended education and experience will likely achieve an even higher salary.  The salary expectations depend on the size of the hospital or facility where the nurse is working.