Developmental Disability Nurse

What Is a Developmental Disability Nurse?

Developmental disability nurses, or special needs nurses, are trained to care for individuals with conditions which result in developmental disabilities. This entails caring for newborns, children, and adults who suffer from a wide range of disabilities which include Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), cerebral palsy, Fragile X syndrome, and other developmental disorders. Developmental disability nurses are one of a number of healthcare professionals who provide important services to developmentally delayed patients and are tasked with assisting patients with eating, teaching language and movement skills, and more.

What Are Some Developmental Disability Nurse Duties?

Tasks commonly carried out by developmental disability nurses may include:

  • Advocate for patients
  • Educate patients and their families about their conditions
  • Assist patients with bodily care, movement, and communication
  • Provide dietary advice
  • Coordinate certain aspects of patient care
  • Manage health screenings
  • Work closely with an interdisciplinary healthcare team to assist patients in maintaining their health and quality of life
  • Develop evidence-based care plans, policies, and procedures
  • Maintain accurate patient records for the interdisciplinary healthcare team
  • Act as an intermediary for families, educators, the medical team, as well as external health or advocacy groups
  • Survey pertinent health information and make recommendations accordingly
  • Refer patients to a wide variety of healthcare professionals to assist in supporting their social, developmental, and mental well-being
  • Help find and recommend clients to other kinds of services such as educational or workplace programming

Where Do Developmental Disability Nurses Work?

Developmental disability nurses generally care for patients in the following environments:

  • Hospitals
  • Health clinics
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Group homes
  • Institutional settings
  • Private homes
  • Schools

How to Become a Developmental Disability Nurse

All nurses should be compassionate, empathetic, and patient. However, these three qualities can't be overstated when it comes to developmental disability nurses. If you possess these traits and think that a career in this specialty is for you, the right mix of nursing education and clinical experience will be required.

Step 1: Educational Requirements

Like many other nursing specialties, developmental disability nurses always must first become RNs by graduating with either an ADN or BSN degree from an accredited academic institution. Upon graduating and then passing the NCLEX-RN, individuals become fully licensed via their state's governing body. RNs must work two or more years in settings where they'll be exposed to patients with developmental disabilities in order to be eligible for the specialty certification.

Do Developmental Disability Nurses Need an RN Degree?

Yes, developmental disability nurses must have an active and unrestricted registered nurses license and should have a couple of years of clinical experience in the field in order to be eligible for certification. Many hospitals and medical facilities will prefer a BSN degree for the role.

Required Developmental Disability Nurse Certifications / Credentials

The Developmental Disability Nurses Association represents the organizational body that grants certifications, developmental disability nurses.

In order to be eligible for certification, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a minimum of 4,000 hours of active developmental disabilities nursing practice as an RN in any of the following roles: practicing nurse, nurse administrator, nurse educator, or nurse consultant.

Developmental Disability Nurse Jobs, Salary & Employment

Rates of autism in America are higher than they've ever been before and only continue to climb. Because individuals who are on the autism spectrum represent a significant percentage of the patients that developmental disability nurses care for, these nurses can expect to be needed for the foreseeable future.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - Top tier communication and interpersonal skills, ability to work in teams, organizational skills, patience, ability to work directly with patients in a hands-on fashion, strong non-verbal communicative ability, compassion, empathy
  • Job Outlook - The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job growth for in the nursing sector will increase by 16% between 2014 and 2024 – a rate that's substantially higher than most occupations. It isn't unreasonable to assume the outlook for this nursing specialty to mirror that of traditional RNs.

What Is the Average Salary of a Developmental Disability Nurse?

According to ZipRecruiter, the current national average salary of a developmental disability nurse is around $50,471 annually. Factors that will determine how much a developmental disability nurse is paid include things like the location of their employment, the employing organization, how much clinical experience in the field they have, their education levels, and other credentials that they may have. In addition to the salaries that these nurses receive, it also isn't uncommon for employers to give them a mileage stipend since visiting the homes of patients is often an aspect of the profession. Additionally, developmental disability nurses who are employed full-time can expect to receive a number of benefits from their employers. Generally included in these benefits are things like medical, dental, vision, and some annual sick-leave or paid-time-off. This will vary from employer to employer, however.

How Much Do Developmental Disability Nurses Make per Year?

  • $31,500 – $62,500 annually

How Much Do Developmental Disability Nurses Make per Hour?

  • $24.00 average hourly wage

Developmental Disability Nurse Resources