If you want to really make a difference in the lives of patients and help them recovery from serious injuries or illnesses, you might be interested in what a rehabilitation nurse does. These registered nurses (R.N.s) care for patients that are recovering from disabilities, collaborating with and coordinating the work of a team of healthcare professionals with different approaches and areas of expertise.

The Job of a Rehabilitation Nurse

What a rehabilitation nurse does is take care of patients who have suffered disabilities due to a serious injury or illness, like a stroke or a traumatic injury. For some patients, these disabilities may be temporary, but for others, they cause permanent life changes, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. In either case, getting the right care can help patients reach their full potential for improvement and achieve the maximum level of independence possible. The opportunity to help patients recover to the best of their ability is what makes this specialty of nursing so rewarding.

In many cases, a big part of what a rehabilitation nurse does is help patients learn to adapt to the lifestyle changes that accompany a disability, according to the Houston Chronicle. Rehabilitation nurses teach patients the skills to be as independent as possible in spite of the challenges of living with a disability. Of course, they also provide any other nursing care that the patient may need as a result of the injury or illness the patient has sustained. Rehabilitation nurses find work in a number of different settings, from hospitals to acute rehabilitation facilities and outpatient care facilities, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Becoming a Rehabilitation Nurse

The first step to being qualified to do what a rehabilitation nurse does is starting your nursing education. A diploma program, associate’s degree program or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) degree program are all appropriate starting places for aspiring registered nurses, according to the BLS. However, students should know that a bachelor’s degree is often necessary for career advancement. Many registered nurses who start their careers with a diploma or an associate’s degree ultimately go back to school and complete an R.N. to B.S.N. degree program online.

Many nurses who are interested in rehabilitation nursing choose to earn a credential in the specialty. Approximately 10,000 R.N.s have attained the Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN) credential from the Rehabilitation Nursing Certification Board, a part of the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses. To be eligible for the CRRN designation, R.N.s  must have completed at least two years of work in a rehabilitation nursing role or have one year of rehabilitation nursing experience plus one year of advanced-practice study in nursing as well as pass the CRRN exam.

The ideal candidates for roles in rehabilitative nursing are patient, supportive and encouraging enough to inspire hope even in patients whose disabilities are severe. If you have the right temperament, few nursing specialties are as rewarding as rehabilitation. There’s no question that what a rehabilitation nurse does is of the utmost importance to the disabled patients whose lives improve a great deal as a result of their work.

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