The Intangible Benefits of Rehabilitation Nursing

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A nurse can work in a variety of environments, ranging from a doctor’s office to an intensive care unit. The common denominator in every environment is that nurses support physicians, perform treatments, provide patient education and monitor the condition of patients with various medical conditions.

Rehabilitation nursing is a specialization focused on helping individuals with a disability or chronic illness reach their functional goals, such as ambulation, activities of daily living and improved speech. In this environment, nurses and therapists work closely together to promote independence so patients can return to their home, family and community.

In this care environment, nurses can:

  • Receive specialization by becoming a Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN®)
  • Branch out into many clinical specialties such as wound care, infection prevention, hospital education, patient assessment standards, risk management, case management and more
  • Get to know your patients over a few weeks, creating customized care plans and building a more robust understanding of their medical and emotional needs
  • See approximately 80-85% of your patients return to the community instead of another healthcare facility or long-term care unit

One Nurse’s Story of Growth

Jeanna Lim joined Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Northwest Tucson in 2010 as a nursing student in her first year of clinical rotation. A few months later, she applied for the role of rehabilitation nursing tech (RNT) and became a full-time employee. Even with minimal patient care experience, hospital leaders recognized her eagerness to learn and grow her career.

By 2013, Lim had graduated nursing school, passed the nursing board exam and became Encompass Health’s newest registered nurse. Her nursing career grew exponentially over the following years. In May 2016, she was promoted to nurse supervisor. During the six years she held that position, she was busy becoming a CRRN and cross-training with other clinical specialties within the hospital.

“I’ve been able to learn the role of an RNT, RN, nurse supervisor, PRN case manager, infection preventionist and hospital educator. I was even given the opportunity to shadow a rehab liaison to learn the admissions process,” Lim said. “Learning the admissions process allowed me to better understand the journey a patient goes through from admission to discharge. It has truly helped me become a better nurse.”

In 2022, Lim officially became the hospital’s infection preventionist and hospital educator. She also leads patient safety initiatives by serving as the hospital’s STOP/CPR trainer. It’s been an exciting 12-year journey, but Lim says she’s not done growing with the company.

“I’m someone who is usually apprehensive of change, but I can confidently say I’ve never been afraid to step into new roles at Encompass Health! I always knew that if I needed help, I would receive it,” Lim said.

An Emotionally Fulfilling Role

Being part of an integrated care team and helping patients return to independence provides personal and professional benefits that go far beyond a paycheck. When Lim first entered the world of rehabilitation nursing, she was surprised to see the wide variety of patients—and their conditions and injuries—who are treated in this care setting. Every patient is unique, which means every day in rehabilitation nursing is a learning opportunity.

As a young RNT, she was assigned to care for a patient with a brain injury who had severe mobility restrictions, was weaning off a feeding tube and experiencing agitation and mood swings. Treating this type of patient was intimidating at first, but because of his lengthy stay, Lim saw him progress over the course of a few weeks.

“I don’t know if it was destiny, but I got to work the day of this patient’s discharge. He was not even recognizable to me because of his transformation,” Lim said. “The patient said goodbye to everyone while thanking us all and giving hugs. He walked—not rolled—independently out the door. I felt like I witnessed a miracle. It was then when I realized what rehab nursing is all about. I was changed forever.”

It’s important to realize that nursing sometimes involves providing emotional care as much as physical care. When a patient enters the post-acute care setting, they are recovering from a very stressful and disruptive diagnosis or injury. These patients need cheerleaders who will lift their spirits, keep them motivated and guide their recovery. Lim recalled a female patient who had severe anxiety about being treated in an unfamiliar place surrounded by strangers.

“I suggested she think of the hospital as an all-inclusive cruise,” Lim said. “Her behavior changed immediately, and she began asking questions about the hospital. She was so happy when her dinner came and she didn’t have to pay for it. Before long, she was telling me about all her favorite travel spots. It was such a rewarding feeling to comfort her. When the patient is mentally at ease, we can provide better nursing care. That’s what it’s all about.”

Interested in Rehabilitation Nursing?

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. To pursue a career with Encompass Health, you can search for open opportunities near you.

The content of this site is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical conditions or treatments.