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Rehab Nursing at Mary Free Bed

Rehabilitation nurses help individuals affected by chronic illness or physical disability adapt to their disabilities, achieve their greatest potential, and work toward productive, independent lives. They take a holistic approach to meeting patients’ medical, vocational, educational, environmental, and spiritual needs.

Rehabilitation nurses begin working with individuals and their families soon after the onset of a disabling injury or chronic illness. They continue providing support through patient and family education and empower these individuals when they go home or return to work or school. Rehabilitation nurses often teach patients and their caregivers how to access systems and resources. Rehabilitation nursing is a philosophy of care, not a work setting or a phase of treatment.

Rehabilitation nurses base their practice on rehabilitative and restorative principles by:

  • Managing complex medical issues
  • Collaborating with other specialists
  • Providing ongoing patient and caregiver education
  • Setting goals for maximum independence
  • Establishing plans of care to maintain optimal wellness

Rehabilitation nurses practice in all settings:

  • Freestanding rehabilitation facilities
  • Hospitals (inpatient rehabilitation units)
  • Long-term sub-acute care facilities and skilled nursing facilities
  • Long-term acute care facilities
  • Comprehensive outpatient rehab facilities
  • Private practice
  • Home health care agencies
  • Clinics and day rehabilitation programs 
  • Community and government agencies
  • Insurance companies and health maintenance organizations
  • Schools and universities

Rehabilitation nurses fill many roles across the continuum of care:

  • Administrator
  • Admissions liaison
  • Case manager
  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Researcher
  • Staff nurse
  • Educator


Rehabilitation nurses are registered nurses, licensed in the state where they practice. Some have masters and doctoral degrees from one of several specialized programs across the country.

A registered nurse with at least two years of practice in rehabilitation nursing can earn distinction as a certified rehabilitation registered nurse (CRRN) by successfully completing an examination that validates expertise.

© 2007 by the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses. Reprinted with permission.

For information on nursing careers and information specific to rehabilitation nursing, visit the American Nurses Association or the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses.

© 2015 Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital., Grand Rapids, MI | 1.855.MFB.REHAB
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