Rehabilitation Nurse Career Guide



Rehab Nurses provide important care to patients who are dealing with chronic or acute conditions. With consistent treatment and monitoring, they help patients recover to a point that they can return to their home and loved ones. This page will go over all you need to know about this exciting specialization and why it is well worth considering!


 

Overview:


Broadly speaking, rehab nurses provide treatment and care for patients dealing with a number of persistent health issues. They work tirelessly to restore a patient’s independence and freedom. This can be a chronic or acute illness, injury or some form of trauma.


The Association of Rehabilitation Nurses lists a couple of conditions that these nurses work with:


  • Guillain-Barre syndrome

  • Amputation

  • Major joint replacements

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Organ transplant

  • Pulmonary disease

  • Cerebral palsy

  • Burns

  • Brain injury

  • Cancer

  • Cardiovascular

  • Parkinson's disease

  • ALS

  • Spinal cord injury

  • Stroke


 

Tasks and Responsibilities: What you will be tasked with depends on both your patient and facility-of-choice. In a broad sense, a rehab nurse’s shift will typically involve the following:

  • Monitoring and recording patient condition, level of independence and recovery progress

  • Helping patients adjust to lifestyle changes

  • Aiding patients with regaining the most independence and function possible

  • Promoting a calm and therapeutic atmosphere for patients, their families and caregivers.

  • Educating patient and patient families on their current condition and the treatment plan

  • Periodically replacing wound/surgical dressing

  • Using a gastronomy tube to administer enteral feedings and blood products

  • Deciding whether or not patients can perform ADLs independently

  • Safely lifting and moving patients around

  • Applying ordered medications

  • Tracheostomy care

  • Working together with physicians and other healthcare professionals in a care team

  • Creating nursing care plans and adapting them to changes in condition


 

Salary

In its most recent findings in 2020, the BLS listed the average Registered Nursing salary at $75,330 per year. Estimates for Rehab Nurse salaries are higher. Glassdoor places the annual figure at $88,812 while Payscale similarly has a $88,000 estimate. Like with most nursing positions, your salary will depend on factors such as geographic location, additional certifications and years of experience.

Listed below are some of the hourly income ranges based on experience, according to Payscale:

  • Less than 1 year: $27.75 per hour

  • 1-4 years: $29.24 per hour

  • 5-9 years: $31.13 per hour

  • 10-19 years: $33.43 per hour

  • 20 years: $36 per hour

Payscale also lists some of the highest paying cities, for Rehab Nurses:

  • Dallas, TX: $36.49 per hour

  • Seattle, WA: $35.61 per hour

  • Phoenix, AZ: $32.11 per hour

  • Houston, TX: $31.99 per hour

In addition to their salaries, Rehab Nurses are often offered very generous benefits packages by their employers. Specific benefits will depend on the facility, but you can usually expect the following:

  • Reimbursement for Certification and CE Costs

  • Retirement Plans

  • Assistance with site relocation and relocation packages

  • Dependent health insurance coverage

  • Paid Leave (Family Leave of Absence, Maternity, Bereavement)

  • Paid vacations and holidays

  • Insurance (Health, Vision, Dental, Life, etc)

  • Child care

  • Access to nursing conferences

  • Extracurricular discounts


 

Location


You will find most Rehab Nurses in outpatient and inpatient rehabilitation centers. However, they can also find work in the following areas:


  • Outpatient/inpatient rehabilitation facilities

  • Fitness centers

  • PT/OT offices

  • Sub-acute care units

  • Academic institutions

  • Hospitals

  • Long term care or assisted living facilities

  • Home care agencies

  • Medical offices

  • Insurance companies

  • Community centers and government agencies


 

Outlook


According to the BLS, RN employment growth is projected to grow 9% annually from 2020 to 2030. This roughly translates to 194,500 annual job openings within this time. Growth within the industry is expected to be steady and healthy. Of particular note is the rise of chronic conditions, which were projected to spike by 57% by 2020. The increasingly aging population, along with the rise in nursing turnover will increase the need for Rehab Nurses in the years to come.


 

Continuing Education

At the time of writing, there are no special certifications or CEU units specific to Rehabilitaiton Nurses. As a result, nurses only need to worry about their RN CEUs.

It is important to note that the requirements vary from state-to-state. Some states will require you to take 24 contact hours every 2 years, while other states have no CEU requirement at all. You want to find your area’s specific requirements before you send your application. For more information, refer to your area’s State Board of Nursing.

Further Reading:


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