Rehabilitation Nurses Play a Variety of Roles

Rehabilitation nursing offers a gratifying career for nurses who want to use ALL of their clinical skills, make a visible difference in their patients' lives, and work as part of a collaborative healthcare team.

Rehab nurses work with patients of all ages, and their families or caregivers, soon after the onset of a disabling injury or chronic illness. They restore patients' lives so they have freedom and independence again.

Rehab nurses play many roles. They are collaborators, educators, care coordinators, advocates, and change agents. They work with other healthcare team members including physiatrists, OTs, PTs, neuropsychiatrists, speech therapists, and many more specialists to create comprehensive care plans based on patient goals and maximum potential. Rehabilitation nursing is a philosophy of care, not a work setting or a phase of treatment.

You can download our Make A Difference brochure today to pass along to colleagues or staff who may be interested in this rewarding specialty!

Roles of the Rehab Nurse:

  • Administrator
  • Clinical nurse leader
  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Consultant
  • Nurse practitioner

ARN Special Interest Groups (SIGs) have developed Role Descriptions for each of the following roles:

Rehab Nurses Treat:

  • ALS
  • Amputation
  • Brain injury
  • Burns
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular
  • Cerebral palsey
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Major joint replacements
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Organ transplant
  • Pulmonary disease
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Stroke

Rehab Nurses Practice Across the Post-Acute Care Continuum:

  • Community hospitals
  • Freestanding rehabilitation facilities
  • Home health agencies
  • Hospitals (inpatient & outpatient rehab units)
  • Insurance and HMOs
  • Long-term acute care
  • Private practice
  • Skilled nursing with rehab
  • Subacute facilities
  • Universities and teaching hospitals
  • Department of VA and Government

“Saving the life is the first priority, then the rehab nurse moves in and restores the living!” — ARN Member Leslie McConnell, RN CRRN 

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