What Does A Rehabilitation Nurse Researcher Do?

The rehabilitation nurse researcher focuses on the activities within the research and sometimes quality improvement domain as described within the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses Standards & Scope of Rehabilitation Nursing Practice and Competency Model for Professional Rehabilitation Nursing. The rehabilitation nurse researcher contributes to the body of knowledge of rehabilitation nursing through conducting research and dissemination of research findings. This body of knowledge encompasses health promotion, disease prevention, and the management of disease- and treatment-related effects for individuals, families, communities, and populations with physical disabilities and/or chronic illnesses.

Roles and Duties of a Rehabilitation Nurse Researcher

The roles of the rehabilitation nurse researcher include, but are not limited to, those outlined below:

Rehabilitation Nurse Researcher

  • In consultation with the RNF Research Agenda, identifies problems and health care issues within rehabilitation nursing in collaboration with rehabilitation nurses in practice, other researchers, health care professionals, individuals with disabilities and/or chronic illnesses, families, communities and populations.
  • Develops, conducts, and disseminates research in collaboration with other nurse researchers, rehabilitation nurses, clients, statisticians, health economists, and/or consultants.
  • Acquires support for rehabilitation nursing research in terms of funding, personnel, equipment, measurement instruments, access to subjects, and necessary services.
  • Conducts rehabilitation nursing research that follows established institutional and National Institutes of Health guidelines and is congruent with the protection of human subject principles.
  • Disseminates research findings through professional venues including conferences, research reports, peer-reviewed publications, and other formats of media.

Practitioner for Evidence-Based Practice

  • Synthesizes research findings appropriate for translation to rehabilitation nursing practice.
  • Develops clinical interventions and/or clinical guidelines for use in rehabilitation nursing practice.
  • Conducts quality improvement initiatives to improve the health outcomes of individuals, families, communities, and populations.

Research Reviewer

  • Serves as a reviewer of research proposals to determine fundability.
  • Serves as a member of an education or healthcare organization's Institutional Review Board.
  • Serves as reviewer for completed studies to be shared by presentation, publication, or other media.

Educator and Mentor

  • Serves as an educator and mentor for those who are beginning a research career.
  • Mentors the rehabilitation nurse by fostering scientific inquiry and promoting growth in evidence-based practice.

Nursing Leader

  • Acts as a change agent within the profession and the community to foster rehabilitation nursing research.
  • Serves as a leader in Interprofessional research collaboration.


Melnyk, B. M., & Fineout-Overholt, E. (2011). Evidence-Based practice in nursing & healthcare: A guide to best practice (2nd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer.

Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (2014). Standards & Scope of Rehabilitation Nursing Practice, (6th ed.). Chicago, IL.

Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (2014). ARN Position Statement - Advanced Practice in Rehabilitation Nursing. Chicago, IL: Author.

Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (2014). ARN Competency Model for Professional Rehabilitation Nursing. Chicago, IL: Author.

National Institutes of Health, Policy & Guidance. (2015). Retrieved from http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/policy.htm

This role description was originally developed by the Researchers Special Interest Group of the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses in 2004. Subsequent revisions were made in 2011, 2015.

feature about

Join Your Specialty Organization

Become an ARN member today to achieve your professional goals as a rehabilitation nurse

Learn More