Rehabilitation nursing involves helping patients with chronic illness or disabilities to recover, adapt, and return to optimal health and independent living as much as possible. A rehabilitation nurse provides not only therapy, but comfort, empathy, and also education. Rehabilitation nurses are an invaluable part of patients setting goals, adapting to disabilities, restoring their health and returning to their daily lives. Rehabilitation nurses can work in any healthcare setting that nursing care is provided: hospitals, clinics, private practices, rehabilitation clinics, home healthcare agencies, long-term acute care or subacute care facilities, and even schools and universities. With additional education, rehabilitation nurses can become case managers, researchers, educators, nurse practitioners, or clinical specialists. Rehabilitation nurses can further specialize as well, such as with cardiac rehabilitation, in which they help heart attack victims recover.<!- mfunc feat_school ->
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There are rehabilitation nursing job options for those at all levels of education. You can earn your Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) in two years or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in four years. A third option is a nursing diploma from a hospital nursing program. As long as you earn your nursing degree from an accredited nursing program, you will be eligible to become a registered nurse (RN) and take the NCLEX licensure exam. Passing the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) is a general requirement in all states prior to applying for licensure to work as a Registered Nurse in the state. Taking additional courses focusing on rehabilitation nursing while pursuing your degree is ideal, but not required. You may also want to consider an internship at a rehabilitation nursing facility. Internships can often lead to jobs after graduation from a nursing program or at the least some great professional contacts for later on in your career. The most important thing is to find the right nursing program for you, and then get started on gaining the ever so valuable nursing work experience in rehabilitation nursing, which is a valued component when considering becoming a Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse.
Rehabilitation nurse certification is also an option, and is offered by the Rehabilitation Nursing Certification Board (RNCB) through the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN). When you pass the rehabilitation nursing certification exam, you will be eligible to use the credentials CRRN, which stands for Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse. Certification in nursing specialties, like rehabilitation nursing, is voluntary and not legally required to practice, as a license is. However, rehabilitation nursing certification is highly preferable and considered mandatory by many healthcare employers. It demonstrates to your employers and patients alike that your rehabilitation nursing skills and knowledge are current and meet national industry standards. Generally, rehabilitation nurses sit for the certification exam after they have gained a few years of work experience in rehabilitation nursing. To take this certification exam, you must not only be a licensed, registered nurse, but must have worked for a minimum of two years in rehabilitation nursing, or have one year of rehab nursing work experience and one year of advanced study in nursing. Rehabilitation nursing certification must also be periodically renewed as well, which will help in keeping you up-to-date with the new developments in the rehabilitation nursing field that is frequently changing due to advancements in practice techniques and research.
According to payscale.com, the average hourly rate for a CRRN is $24.56 to $33.80 per hour, as of 2010, and simplyhired.com cites the average annual salary as $52,000 for a rehabilitation nurse. This will climb with additional work experience and continuing education, but will often vary depending on your location, facility type and employer. Additionally, medical benefits offered in these jobs are usually very good, as is the job security. The outlook for nursing in general is promising, with nursing being one of the fastest growing professions in an already booming healthcare sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As the field of medicine progresses and nurses continue to take on more and more responsibilities in an effort to maintain cost-effective healthcare, specialized nurses like CRRNs will likely enjoy even more rehabilitation nurse job prospects and growth. Because many rehabilitation patients need round-the-clock care or monitoring, flexibility is also a possible perk of this job, should you need to work off hours or part-time.
Being a rehabilitation nurse may require even more patience and tenacity than most nursing positions. But it is a career path with many options, a good future, and many emotional rewards should you choose to pursue it. Explore the nursing programs in your state that can help you start or advance your career in the field of rehabilitation nursing.
(Sources: Association of Rehabilitation Nurses)