Rehabilitation Nurse

What Is a Rehabilitation Nurse?

Rehabilitation nurses work closely with patients following the onset of a disabling injury or chronic illness - usually within orthopedics, neurology, or drug rehabilitation. Although they wear many hats, the primary objective of a rehabilitation nurse is to help assist patients in dealing with and overcoming any personal limitations which may result because of their disability. Rehabilitation nurses are educators, care coordinators, advocates and agents of change who help to restore patients' lives so that they regain their independence and freedom to the best of their ability. These nurses work alongside other healthcare professionals such as physical therapists, neuropsychiatrists, addiction specialists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and other specialists to create comprehensive care plans that are personally tailored to reach patient goals. Rehabilitation nurses have the chance to establish intimate relationships with patients and their loved ones.

What Are Some Rehabilitation Nurse Duties?

Duties which are commonly performed by rehabilitation nurses often include:

  • Work alongside interdisciplinary healthcare team to help patients achieve goals, regain their independence, and return to their daily lives
  • Educate patients and their loved ones/caregivers about techniques they can employ to assist them in living with and managing chronic disease or injuries
  • Perform hands-on nursing care to help achieve quality outcomes for clients
  • Provide comprehensive, compassionate, and holistic care to patients
  • Act as a role model and educational/informational resource for patients, nursing staff, and other staff members
  • Promote realistic and achievable independence

Where Do Rehabilitation Nurses Work?

Rehab nurses can find gainful employment in the following areas:

  • Drug rehab centers
  • Neurological rehab centers
  • Hospitals
  • Educational institutions
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Long-term care centers
  • Patients' homes
  • Specialty hospitals
  • Private practices

How to Become a Rehabilitation Nurse

Prospective rehab nurses must start by earning an RN degree. It is advisable to try to take courses having to do with disabilities and rehabilitation if at all possible. Gaining some experience in the field of rehabilitation - preferably two to three years, is advantageous. Those serious about becoming Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurses (CRRN) will need to seek certification through the Rehabilitation Nursing Certification Board (RNCB), which is an independent organization under the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses.

Step 1: Educational Requirements

To become a rehabilitation nurse, one must meet the following educational requirements:

  • Earn an Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited college or university
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN
  • Hold an active and unrestricted RN license

Although master's degrees specific to advanced practice rehabilitation nursing aren't yet available, advanced practice rehabilitation nurses do exist. To reach this level, individuals should pursue one of the following post-graduate degrees:

  • Master of Health Science (MHS) Degree in Rehabilitation Science
  • Executive Masters in Rehabilitation Administration
  • Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Science

Do Rehabilitation Nurses Need an RN Degree?

Yes, rehabilitation nurses are required to hold active and unrestricted RN licenses to practice in their specialty field.

Step 2: Required Rehabilitation Nurse Certifications/Credentials

Prospective rehabilitation nurses can acquire the Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN) credential through the Rehabilitation Nursing Certification Board (RNCB).

In order to be eligible to take the Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN) credential exam, the following requirements must be fulfilled:

  • Hold an active and unencumbered RN license
  • Have at least two years of experience as an RN within the rehabilitation nursing specialty within the five years prior to applying


  • Have at least one year of experience as an RN within the rehabilitation nursing specialty and one year of post-baccalaureate education in nursing within the five years prior to applying

Rehabilitation Nurse Jobs, Salary & Employment

As per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 2 million rehabilitation nursing and registered nursing positions in the country. An increased emphasis on preventative care, advances in technology, an aging population, and other factors suggest that the employment opportunities in the nursing sector will continue to expand.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - Strong communication skills, ability to work well with hands, teamwork, empathy, ability to lift and move patients, excellent teaching skills, a positive outlook, and strong planning skills
  • Job Outlook - The job outlook for RNs is excellent, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting that the number of available jobs for nurses will grow by approximately 16% between 2014 and 2024. Rehabilitation nurses are likely to see an increasing number of available jobs in the coming years as well.

What Is the Average Salary of a Rehabilitation Nurse?

According to, the average annual salary for Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurses (CRRNs) is approximately $80,000. Pay rates for rehab nurses will depend heavily on factors such as the amount of experience nurses have, what their educational credentials are, the city and state in which they're employed in, and the employer. Although the same factors will also play a role in determining what kind of benefits a rehabilitation nurse will receive, it's common for nurses in this specialty to receive the same or similar benefits as most traditional RNs. Medical insurance, paid time off, and other perks are regularly available to rehab nurses.

How Much Do Rehabilitation Nurses Make per Year?

  • $80,000 average annual salary

How Much Do Rehabilitation Nurses Make per Hour?

  • $34.00 average hourly wage

Rehabilitation Nurse Resources