Rehabilitation nurses help patients in drug rehabilitation, neurology, and orthopedics to attain and maintain maximum function.
There are three types of rehabilitation nurses:
Drug and Alcohol – These nurses help patients who struggle with addiction. They monitor patients who are going through withdrawal and teach them how to prevent relapses. Drug and alcohol rehabilitation nurses work in physicians’ offices, rehab clinics, and a hospital’s drug rehabilitation unit.
Neurological – Those who work as neurological rehabilitation nurses treat patients who have a nervous system condition, including seizures, neuralgia, encephalitis, and meningitis. They work in neurological units in hospitals, skilled nursing care facilities, and specialty clinics.
Orthopedic – Rehabilitation nurses who specialize in orthopedics monitor patients’ therapies and neurologic status. They work in rehab units within a hospital as well as skilled nursing and long-term care facilities.
Job duties will vary based on the type of rehabilitation nurse, and they include:
- Promoting achievable independence
- Administering blood products as prescribed by the treating physician
- Assessing patients to determine their treatment plan
- Working closely with physical therapists, occupational therapists, and social workers
- Administering medications
- Monitoring a patient’s vital signs and notifying the physician of any changes
- Attending interdisciplinary meetings in order to talk about a patient’s progress and to make any necessary changes to the treatment plan
- Changing dressings for patients who have had recent surgery
In order to become a rehabilitation nurse, students need to graduate from an accredited nursing program with an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing Degree or a Bachelor of Applied Science in Nursing Degree. The bachelor’s degree offers a better potential for advancement and some employers prefer to hire nurses with this level of education as opposed to an associate degree.
Those who wish to continue their education to earn a master’s degree have two options: Executive Master’s in Rehabilitation Administration and Master of Health Science Degree in Rehabilitation Sciences. A master’s is required for any rehabilitation nurse who wishes to work as a director of a rehab center or unit. Master’s classes include Nursing Research, Advanced Rehab Theory, Principles of Rehab Nursing, and Health Policy and Leadership.
Upon completing their program, graduates need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) before their first day on the job.
Rehabilitation nurses can obtain the optional Certified Rehab Registered Nurse (CRRN) credential that’s offered by the Rehabilitation Nursing Certification Board (RNCB). Requirements include an unrestricted RN license and one of the following:
- Two years of practice as a registered nurse in rehabilitation nursing within the five years before applying to take the exam
- One year of practice as a rehabilitation registered nurse within the five years before applying to sit for the exam along with one year of post-baccalaureate education in nursing
The exam contains 175 questions and covers:
- Functional health patterns: theories, physiology, assessment standards of care, and interventions
- Rehab nursing models and theories
- Ethical, legislative, economic, and legal issues
- The rehabilitation team and helping patients reenter their community
Recertification is necessary every five years and requires a minimum of two years rehabilitation nursing work experience during the renewal period and taking the CRRN exam again or having sixty points of continuing education credit.
Job Outlook and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states the job growth is expected to be nineteen percent by the year 2020, and it’s believed the faster than average job growth is due to the rising number of elderly patients and injuries among children. According to Simplyhired.com, the average salary of rehabilitation nurses is $66,000.
If you would like to help patients recover from injuries or addiction, please contact us to find the right training program for you.