Rehabilitation Nurse

What Does a Rehabilitation Nurse Do?

Rehabilitation nurses aid patients with long-term physical disabilities or other chronic illnesses in learning how to cope with and deal with their limitations. A rehabilitation nurse is a rewarding career because it helps others reach their full potential in the face of medical illness. On a daily basis, rehabilitation nurses work with patients and their family members shortly after patients begin the recovery process that starts after having experienced a debilitating physical injury or long-term illness. Rehabilitation nurses work in a variety of settings that include hospitals, long-term care facilities, home healthcare agencies, or private practices. The rehabilitation nurse helps the patient devise a recovery plan in which the patient and her family establish short- and long-term goals that allow for a relatively independent lifestyle. If you are someone who is interested in holistic, long-term treatment, then a rehabilitation nursing career may be just the thing for you.

How Can I Become a Rehabilitation Nurse?

Becoming a rehabilitation nurse requires a specific amount of education, experience, and training. The first step in becoming a rehabilitation nurse is to become a registered nurse (RN). This can be accomplished by enrolling in a nursing degree program. There are both two-year associate’s degree programs and four-year bachelor’s degree programs widely available. Hospitals also offer diploma programs that combine education and on-the-job training. If you know very early on that rehabilitation nursing is a field in which you would like to enter, then enroll in a nursing program that specializes in rehabilitation science. This way, you’ll get a taste of all the different facets involved in patient rehabilitation, so you can get a better idea of what area you would be interested in pursuing, like physical therapy, speech pathology, or occupational therapy, just to name a few examples. Since rehabilitation nursing is more complex and interdisciplinary than many other nursing fields, it will help to get the proper, specific training before you begin your first few years of working nursing experience. Once you do have at least two years of experience as an RN under your belt, you can take an exam to become a Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN).

What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for a Rehabilitation Nurse?

The career outlook for rehabilitation nurses is excellent. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, registered nurses in general can expect to experience a 22% job growth rate over the next ten years. This is much faster than the average rate of job growth overall. What’s more, according to 2009 data from, the average salary of a certified rehab nurse first entering the field is roughly $61,000. A rehab clinical nurse specialist (CNS), which is an advanced practice nurse, can earn upwards of $70,000. These figures vary from city to city and state to state, and can be affected by various factors including size of hospital, agency, or practice, cost of living, level of education, and years of experience. In any case, anyone wishing to pursue the very exciting career path of rehabilitation nursing will never have to worry about future job security. Like all nursing professions, rehabilitation nursing is experiencing increased demand as the baby boomer generation ages and seeks the kind of care that a rehab nurse can provide. In this sense, by providing care to those in need, rehab nursing is rewarding on a level that transcends salary also.

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