Rehabilitation nursing technicians (RNTs) play an important role in inpatient rehabilitation hospitals, helping those with physical impairments or disabilities meet their functional goals though excellent nursing care and support. An RNT career has many potential paths from which to choose.
- Develop in position: An RNT can grow their clinical expertise by obtaining state nurse assistant certification (CNA or STNA), become a preceptor or get involved in hospital teams.
- Develop specialization: RNTs can obtain advanced training and apply those new skills. Some examples include learning clinical documentation systems and teaching newly hired techs or receive safe patient mobility training and educate others in the correct procedures.
- Cross-training or lateral: Cross-training is learning a different role which helps build team members’ skills and helps the hospital cover vacations, leaves and vacancies. Offering to learn new skills and fill in is a great way to try out other roles to see if you like it.
- Advancement: Rehabilitation nursing techs can take advantage of tuition reimbursement to advance their career. Nurse techs can use this program to pursue a career in nursing or other clinical fields such as occupational, physical or speech therapy. RNTs can also get into administrative roles such as nursing staffing coordinator, unit secretary, central supply clerk, case management assistant and admissions representative.
MacKenzie Dolan’s story
MacKenzie Dolan has been with Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Toms River, New Jersey, since 2008. She is currently a patient experience program coordinator, but she has had several other moves in her career path since starting as an RNT.
I always knew I wanted to get into nursing. I started at Encompass Health in 2008 when I started nursing school. Then some personal issues caused me to take a break from school, and I decided to work full time as a rehab nursing tech.
I was lucky enough to be surrounded by inspiring people that encouraged me to pursue my dreams. I made a goal to pay off my student loans before going back to school, and I shared that goal with my CNO. We decided to post my loan balance on a board in her office, and after each payment I updated the balance. I worked hard and after 10 years, I paid off the loan in full while working as an RNT.
In the meantime, I cross-trained as unit secretary and helped with admissions and discharge paperwork. I taught the Comfort, Professionalism and Respect class for new hires and became a certified BLS instructor. I try to help and get involved where I can because it helps me continue to grow and it also helps my hospital.
In 2013, I received the Outstanding Employee Achievement Award for Encompass Health’s Northeast region and got to visit the Home Office for the companywide celebration, which was very exciting. I was even on the cover of our company magazine! To be one of six winners out of a company of 30,000 people was quite an honor.
My career growth did not stop there. I applied for the nursing staffing coordinator position in 2016; a role which I held for two years. I then interviewed for the patient experience program coordinator position and moved into the role July 1, 2018. My managers and colleagues have always encouraged me to be part of a hospital performance improvement team so I can assist in benefiting our patients and also integrate with other departments. I’ve been part of various hospital committees and currently lead our Patient Experience Program and Stroke Support Group.
I am currently back in nursing school and on my way to achieving my long-term goal of becoming a registered nurse. I took advantage of our tuition reimbursement program to help me pay off my first semester back at school. I graduate in May of next year and I cannot wait to be a nurse on the floor and successfully make my dream come true thanks to Encompass Health!
All of the opportunities and projects I have experienced since 2008 have really helped me understand how a hospital operates. I believe these different experiences will continue to help my future career as a nurse.
Dolan’s advice for RNTs?
From rehabilitation nursing technician to patient experience program coordinator, Dolan is a great example of how to navigate the different opportunities in our hospitals. She shared her tips for rehab nursing techs interested in a long-term career.
- Always show room for growth for any position. When you work hard and do your job well, you show your potential.
- Be open to new opportunities and a different career path. She had always wanted to be a nurse, but was open to other career options along the way.
- Look for ways to broaden your horizons and learn as much as you can. Offer to train new hires or volunteer for a hospital committee. These experiences can help you grow your skills while giving back to your hospital.
- You don’t need any special letters (RN, PT, OT, RNT) after your name to be involved in your hospital. Get on a committee! No matter what department you work in or how much schooling you may have or not have had, be an advocate and know your voice matters.
Her story is one of many
Across the nation, we have rehab nursing techs involved in committees, pursuing education, cross training and applying for advanced positions. While not everyone wants career growth, it is possible for those driven to grow. Whether you are new to nursing or an experienced nurse assistant, you can build a great career in an environment that promotes growth and development.
To learn more about nursing career opportunities at Encompass Health, we invite you to stay in touch with us by joining our talent community so a member of our recruitment team can email you with more information.
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