Too Smart for Rehab Nursing

  1. 20
    I am too smart for Rehab Nursing.

    This is what I hear whenever I tell people that I enjoy working in acute rehab and that when I am done with nursing school this Fall I think I am going to stick around on the rehab floor. I am a Nurse Tech who has worked on this floor for about a year. I am an A student who gets rave reviews from my clinical instructors. "Work in cardiac!" I hear often, "Go to progressive care!" "Rehab?!? You're too smart for rehab, you'll get BORED"

    Bored?!? Have these people ever been on a rehab floor? They seem to think all we do is give pain meds and take teetering old ladies to the bathroom. Rehab combines med/surg nursing with a great deal of psych nursing and ortho nursing AND neuro nursing AND oncology nursing! We get all sorts of people on this floor! You have to be ready for anything.

    Also, I enjoy the patients. I like getting to know them and their families and there is no greater joy than watching the patient that was not able to even move his/her legs on arrival finally stand up and take a few steps for the first time. Rehab nursing is about being a cheerleader some days and a drill sergeant the next. You have to use tough love sometimes. . .but also know when to just hug a patient and let them cry. We also laugh a lot on my floor.

    Yes, there is a TON of paperwork for the nurses (I hear them cursing FIMs every day). Yes, it is physically hard. Yes, there are a lot of pain meds. No, there isn't the constant excitement of Trauma nursing or ICU. But there is magic and fulfillment and some days you truly do feel like a guardian angel.

    Does anyone else love working in rehab and hate the comments about how boring it is and how a "smart nurse" shouldn't work there? Because some days I start to doubt myself and I start to think that maybe I should go to a med/surg or tele floor when I graduate -- I am afraid of being pigeon-holed forever as a "rehab nurse" But would that be the worst thing in the world?
    dinah77, sharpeimom, loriangel14, and 17 others like this.

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  2. 60 Comments...

  3. 6
    Lola,
    You put that so well. I feel exactly the same way. People just don't get it. They think rehab=nursing home, not that nursing homes are anything to sneeze at either. I am an RN in acute rehab and I love it. I have learned more here than anywhere else I have ever worked. You are so right about it being psych nursing and cheerleading and med surg combined. We have such a diverse mix of patients between the ortho fx and surgical pts and the chronically ill and the cvas and the cardiac, esrd, oncology, mvas and all the different miscellaneous things we see. I don't know why we get such a bad rap. We work hard and are just as skilled as any other specialty area. Nurses that float to our floor say that they have never worked so hard on any other floor, and it is not just busy work. We have to be on top of things just like any other specialty area. It is a different skill set and I don't know why it is considered so low on the totem pole of nursing. Maybe because alot of subacute rehabs are located in LTC facilities which might be the one area of nursing considered lower than ours. I actually had a recruiter say to me, "Rehab isn't that impressive on a resume". I have worked med surg and It is only slightly different in that you have a different focus in rehab. Plus, in rehab everyone is dressed when you want to assess them and are always passing out when they are in the gym. We have rapid responses and codes just as often as a med-surg floor. Don't listen to those who tell you not to do rehab. It is a very positive, proactive place to be and you can learn alot. Good Luck!
    jnrsmommy, JavaMama98, JerzeeMike, and 3 others like this.
  4. 1
    Hey, if you've found your fit then good luck to you. Also because our rehab unit is in a nursing home then I get "so you just work in an old folks home?" Go with your heart and not what everyone else is telling you.
    JavaMama98 likes this.
  5. 2
    I started out in rehab as a new grad. It is very, very busy, and very challenging. Anyone who says it isn't doesn't know what they are talking about.
    LEN-RN and Wise Woman RN like this.
  6. 0
    I love working on my subacute rehab unit. There is variety to learn new things each day. The gratification that we get from the patients and their families is so different from other areas of nursing that I've worked. It is almost like nursing the way it once used to be....
  7. 14
    Just to give you my two cents, I think any nurse that works in a subacute rehab NEEDS to be a top-notch nurse on their game with superior assessment skills!! I have worked ER most of my career and last year helped to start a wound care program at a local subacute rehab. Let me tell ya, these patients are HIGH acuity a lot of times and you don't have any immediate support........... its on you. I've seen paramedics berate the nurses for calling 911, etc. etc. It was funny because a lot times, the nurses would use me as an "emergency consult" lol, and when the paramedics were giving the nurses grief, I would walk up and they'd SHUT up cause I trained a lot them! The thing is, you have potential emergency situations without the luxury of monitors, EKG, and other tools that ER staff do. My hat is off to the subacute rehab nurse and my prayers are with the patients who are in rehabs that don't value strong nursing skills........ because there are plenty out there who understaff and undersupport. They give the nurses 30 patients as if they are long term care patients meanwhile they have 3 day post CABG patients and 5 patients on IVABT. etc etc. Plus you have to manage the CNA's ..... arg. I'm glad I work in the ER where I can RELAX lol
    Nola009, strawberryfields, pedicurn, and 11 others like this.
  8. 6
    When I went to work at a nursing home, I was told that I was wasting my education. When I went back to med surg, I was asked why I didn't go to ER or ICU. Now that I am a school nurse, I'm told all I do is put on bandaids. I've needed good nursing skills for all these positions. And besides, It's MY career, if I choose to wast it by putting on bandaids and taking the summer off, I guess that's up to me.
    Debilpn23, Trinh, study2Bnurse, and 3 others like this.
  9. 3
    I was discharging a patient when I was working in subacute rehab nearly 2 years ago.

    The patient was smiling and gave me a big hug as she said, "You're too smart for this type of nursing. You need to be working in surgery or the ICU!"

    Unfortunately, the public and the rest of the medical community ascribes ranks to the different specialties, and rehab seems to trend toward the bottom of the barrel. I think many minds would be changed if people could walk a mile in our shoes.
    strawberryfields, cfsleo812, and meluhn like this.
  10. 5
    school nurses are another under-rated group. You are the pediatrician, parent, social worker, trauma nurse, psychologist, child abuse counselor, teacher, eye doctor and DERMATOLOGIST. wow, I think I am pretty passionate about the unsung heros in our profession. It really ticks me off
    jnrsmommy, JavaMama98, JerzeeMike, and 2 others like this.
  11. 8
    I've also heard people talk and act like they feel rehab is a lower order of nursing. When you hear all of the talk of how we have to promote nursing and let the world know just how important it is, etc-maybe we should also work to promote rehab nursing whenever possible. Our patients are so much more diverse than on any other floor in the hospital-because we have patients from all over the hospital. And we have to be able to take care of all of them. It's hard to get bored when you are constantly changing gears and trying to find better ways of doing things. We have all the wound dressings, wound vacs, burn dressings, LVADS, other cardiac patients, cancer patients, strokes, neuro diseases, spinal injuries, TBIs, general deconditioning, amputations, MVA patients.... When I first started in rehab my saying was that "other nurses help save patients lives, rehab nurses help patients get their lives back". Two years later and I still feel that way and am still on fire for my job. The relationships formed with our patients and their families are special. Seeing a patient able to go home, priceless.


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