History of Rehabilitation Nursing

The Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN) was formed by Susan Novak in 1974 with support from Lutheran General Hospital, in Park Ridge, Illinois, at a time when rehabilitation nursing became recognized as a nursing specialty. By 1976, ARN was formally recognized as a specialty nursing organization by the American Nurses Association (ANA). As the needs for these specialty nurses grew, ARN developed the Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN) certification in 1984, and has turned over administration of the certification to the Rehabilitation Nursing Certification Board (RNCB), an autonomous component of ARN. The CRRN program is accredited by the American Board of Nursing Specialties.

Evolution of the Specialty

An interdisciplinary healthcare specialty, rehabilitation evolved as many 20th Century wartime soldiers, young men for the most part, survived injury but faced serious disability. As a result, military hospitals established rehabilitation units that focused extensive efforts on returning these young men to society. Soon, rehabilitation units and hospitals sprang up around the country and the interdisciplinary specialty of rehabilitation gained importance.

Milestones

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