The rehabilitation side of nursing is a specialty that deals with the aftermath of injuries that patients have sustained which diminishes their capabilities and independence. The main goal of the rehabilitation nurse is to ensure the patient regains as much independence as possible, depending on the extent of their injuries, as well as providing necessary information to anyone who is going to provide care to that patient that will enable them to assist the patient with their recovery process. This type of nurse can work in virtually any type of establishment that provides care to patients including: hospital facilities, long-term care facilities, and home healthcare agencies. These facilities provide the nurse with options as to where and when they work as well as the type of salary they will earn.
Purpose and Job Description
The rehabilitation nurse will work with a wide variety of injuries and illnesses that have resulted in a loss of independence for the patient. This loss of independence can be in the form of limited mobility which requires the use of a wheelchair, or it can be in the form of a loss of speech or loss of movement that creates the inability to complete the activities of daily living (ADL) for that patient. This type of nurse will provide treatment options that may help the patient to regain mobility, or they may simply provide information to the family and anyone who is going to care for the patient about how they need to proceed with the care of the patient. For example, patients who can no longer feed themselves may need assistance to eat. The rehabilitation nurse will either provide assistive devices that will help them get this function back, or they will provide the instruction to the caregiver as to how they should feed the patient in a way that is effective which helps promote the patient to eventually regain this ability.
Available Jobs and Salary
The average, starting salary for the certified rehabilitation nurse is about $69,000 per year as opposed to a Registered Nurse with no certification who can expect the starting salary to be more in the $30-$40,000 per year range. The rehabilitation nurse will be able to find employment in areas of medicine like the med./surg. units of hospitals or even long-term care facilities. Additionally, many hospitals also offer a special unit for rehabilitation where the staff will provide care to patients who are no longer in a critical condition and are ready to begin their recovery process. In this type of venue, the nurse will be in charge of providing care to the patient while determining what type of treatment options will provide the best possible opportunities for the patient to regain as much independence as possible. Another aspect in the rehabilitation field is that of home health care. Home health nurses with the rehabilitation specialty will go to the home of the patient after they have been released from the hospital and provide additional care to that patient as well as additional information to the caregiver about what needs to be done to provide adequate treatment to the patient while they remain at home.
The rehabilitation nurse provides the patient and the family with the education that they need to ensure the best recovery possible even when recovery is not expected. This can be a difficult job as many times this nurse will see young people with debilitating injuries which result in the loss of function with little hope of a full recovery. On the other hand, when these nurses see patients who have been diagnosed with little chance of recovery make a full recovery and become mobile and independent again, it makes all of the difficult cases worth it, especially when the nurse knows that this miraculous recovery is due in part to the care the patient received.