Quick Facts :
Rehabilitation Nurse


Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses, May 2017

info-icon Bachelor's
info-icon $73,550 Annual Wage
info-icon 15% Job Growth


What Is a Rehabilitation Nurse?

Imagine having a disability that limits normal functions, like walking and talking. For some, this disabilities from injuries or illnesses are very real and make their lives extremely difficult. The road to recovery from these disabling medical problems is often long and laborious.

Normal functioning and a somewhat normal life, however, can often be achieved through hard work, patience, and a little help from rehabilitation professionals, like rehabilitation nurses.

Rehabilitation nurses must be extremely supportive and encouraging. They often help patients feel empowered, and by giving them hope, they can help their patients reach seemingly impossible goals.

Working as a rehabilitation nurse is one of the most rewarding nursing careers there is. As a rehab nurse, you will frequently get to witness patients push past their own limits and overcome exceptional odds.

Because you will typically work with the same patients on a regular basis, you will also get the chance to establish relationships with patients and their loved ones. Not only will you be seen as a caregiver and rehabilitation professional, but you’ll also often be perceived as a friend and source of support during tough times.

What Does a Rehabilitation Nurse Do?

Rehabilitation nurses work closely with patients with disabilities and their loved ones. As a rehabilitation nurse, you will encounter a number of different disabilities and have several responsibilities. For instance, you may help patients learn – or relearn – how to walk, talk, read, or write. You will also be responsible for caring for your patients’ physical and emotional needs.

Patient care plans are vital during rehabilitation and therapy. As a rehabilitation nurse, you will be required to follow your patient care and treatment plans closely. You will also be required to monitor your patients during rehabilitation and therapy to determine their progress. In some cases, such as those in which patients are making little to no progress, you may be required to help change your patients’ care plans to facilitate rehabilitation.

Basic nursing skills are used by rehabilitation nurses every day. These nursing professionals may be required to changes bandages and dressings, care for wounds, and administer medication. Although the ultimate goal of rehabilitation is to enable patients to live as independently as possible, rehabilitation nurses may also be required to assist patients with everyday tasks as well, such as bathing and dressing.

The main responsibility of a rehabilitation nurse, however, is to teach patients how to deal with their disabilities. These nurses may help their patients exercise to gain strength in affected limbs, for instance, or teach them how to use adaptive devices, such as wheelchairs.

Suffering from a disability or having a loved one who suffers from a disability can be very confusing and frustrating at times. This is why rehabilitation nurses also act as educators and supporters in addition to their other roles. They frequently inform patients and their loved ones about certain disabilities and provide support and information on how they can be overcome.

Where Do Rehabilitation Nurses Work?

Rehabilitation nurses are commonly employed at outpatient rehabilitation centers. However, you might also be able to find employment as a rehabilitation nurse at hospitals, clinics, long-term care agencies, home care agencies, assisted living facilities, and even fitness centers.

How Do I Become a Rehabilitation Nurse?

Earning your nursing degree is the first step toward starting your rehabilitation nursing career During your schooling, you should concentrate on taking courses in rehabilitation and disabilities. If you’re looking to become a registered nurse, you will need to earn at least a bachelor’s degree, while a career as an advanced practice nurse typically requires a master’s degree.

The Rehabilitation Nursing Certification Board also offers certification for rehabilitation nurses. In order to become a Certified Rehabilitation Nurse, you will need to be at least a registered nurse. You must also have either two years of rehabilitation nursing experience, or one year of experience in this field and one year of advanced study in nursing.

Additional Resources for Rehabilitation Nurses