How do I Become a Rehabilitation Nurse?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2018
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There are four steps required to become a rehabilitation nurse: post-secondary training, related work experience, licensing, and the job interview process. A rehabilitation nurse is a certified nurse who has completed additional courses to specialize in rehabilitation. Working closely with the primary physician, the rehabilitation nurse is an integral member of the health services team. The nurse is often assigned case management responsibilities and ensures that all the members of the rehabilitation team work together for the benefit of the patient.

People who are interested in the health care field, enjoy working with people, and are detail-oriented find this type of work satisfying. The primary reward from this type of work is seeing the patient make improvements. A low frustration threshold is required, as multiple attempts might be required to see any noticeable changes in the patient. Rehabilitation nurses can focus on either mental or physical rehabilitation, depending on their preference and area of skill.

The first requirement to become a rehabilitation nurse is to complete a post-secondary training program. Nursing programs are available from a wide range of universities, community and career colleges. Look for schools that specifically offer programs in rehabilitation. The admissions criteria for this specialty may be slightly higher than the standard program, as demand for this type of nurse is increasing as the population ages.


Related work experience is usually obtained through the nurse training program. All nursing schools include work placement terms. Nursing students typically complete a rotation through several departments as part of the basic nursing training program. Specialization in rehabilitation often requires additional courses and a longer rotation in a rehabilitation center.

The best programs to become a rehabilitation nurse have human mannequins, computer simulation programs, and related equipment available to students. The mannequins are used to simulate the symptoms that a patient might present with and allow the nursing students to practice their response. Physical rehabilitation programs have very specialized equipment that must be learned and used where appropriate. Look for a school with a rehabilitation science program, as it is more likely to have this equipment available.

All students are required to complete a licensing examination to become a rehabilitation nurse. Qualification for this exam includes successful completion of a post-secondary nursing program and a certain number of practical hours in different areas of medicine. The examination is a combination of multiple choice and essay questions. It is administered by the state nursing association and candidates must pass to be eligible for work as a nurse. Review the licensing examination requirements in advance to ensure that you are able to write the exam upon graduation.

When applying for a job as a rehabilitation nurse, be sure to proofread your resume and cover letter, double-checking for any grammar or spelling mistakes. During the job interview process, remember that the employer usually has a standard list of questions and is looking for complete, concise responses. Keep in mind that everything you say will be written down and reviewed. Think about your answers, stay calm, and focus on how you can contribute.



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