New To Rehab: Only 5 Day Orientation?


Hello all fellow nurses. I am currently a school nurse who landed this job right out of nursing school bc I didn't get hired at any hospitals. As a school nurse, I never used any "real" nursing skills at all, besides passing out pills and asthma treatments. I was offered a full time position at a small subacute Rehab hospital, but they only wanted to give me a 5 day orientation.... keep in mind i've NEVER worked in an hospital setting, I've basically forgotten a lot of what i learned in nursing school. I would be brand new to this clinical setting.... my friends who started off in hospitals received 8-10 weeks of training before being let loose. Is 5 days just ridiculous or is it just me? I know that in rehab, I will be taking on like 16 patient assignments too...... Help me out here someone. Should I take the job, or run for my life?


TheCommuter, BSN, RN

226 Articles; 27,608 Posts

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 17 years experience.

Is this really a freestanding acute rehab hospital? Or is it a SNF / LTC facility / nursing home with a subacute rehab section? 16 rehab patients sounds typical for nursing home rehab, but it is unheard of in hospital rehab.

In LTC/nursing home rehab, a five-day orientation is very normal (if not generous) in the area where I live, even for newer nurses who lack the skill set. Three days of orientation is the standard around here.

In freestanding acute rehab hospitals, a nurse with hospital or rehab experience might receive a couple of weeks of orientation, whereas a new grad might get anywhere from six to eight weeks. Experienced nurses with a lack of bedside experience might get anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks.

I work at a freestanding acute rehab hospital on night shift. The nurse/patient ratio ranges from 1:7 to 1:9 when we are fully staffed, from 1:10 to 1:12 when we are short on staff.

When I worked in nursing home rehab, I had up to 17 patients on day shift and up to 34 patients on night shift.


106 Posts

Has 5 years experience.

It is a free-standing rehab hospital.

I've been an RN for two years, both of those years in a school setting.

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

226 Articles; 27,608 Posts

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 17 years experience.
It is a free-standing rehab hospital.

I've been an RN for two years, both of those years in a school setting.

In that case, they're probably offering such a short orientation because they do not feel like budgeting the additional money required to offer more days of training. Having someone on orientation is expensive...

If you feel you need more orientation days, just ask them for it and see how they respond. Reaffirm that you've never worked at the bedside before.

Has 7 years experience.

Will there be another nurse working with an equal patient load? As long as you have someone to confer with you will probably be okay. I do think it is a short orientation considering your lack of bedside experience. However, I got 3 days orientation for 30 residents at a LTC freshly licensed a year ago. I work at a rehab unit at a LTC unit. Patient load is 15/1 and I still question myself.


7 Posts

Are you sure it's not just 5 days of the "standard orientation" and then you will be followed by a week or two of precepted experience?

It never hurts to ask for additional training or requesting a preceptor; that's how you become acquainted with the facility, your peers, and doctors and other personnel you will be in constant contact with.

Although the career change with only 5 days of orientation may seem quite intimidating, I still think you should try it!! You may surprise yourself :)


165 Posts

Specializes in ED, Med-Surg, Psych, Oncology, Hospice. Has 30 years experience.

I got 6 days orientation ..... having never worked in a SNF/LTC/NH setting. Not nearly enough, even though I had been a travel nurse the past 3+ years, used to short orientations. I start 4PM med pass at 3PM and I am lucky if I am done at 6PM. I get sent to different units which means I don't know who is who (and can't rely on the patients to know, either!). I feel I am failing miserably after my first 3 weeks. I've yet to have a supper break and have actually lost 20lbs. My problem is described in my screen name .... no one wants old nurses. Though it's great to live in my own home again I think I may have to return to traveling.


95 Posts

Specializes in Ortho/Spine, Telemetry, SNF/Rehab. Has 17 years experience.

I was a new grad with about 2 months experience in Pediatric private duty nursing when I started at my Skilled Nursing/Rehab/LTC job. I was told I'd get a month orientation, but that turned out to be about 5 days and then thrown into the weeds on my own. I was told this was normal and they that do that to everyone. After a few mini-meltdowns, I finally started getting the hang of things, and all is ok now, for the most part. I've been there three months now, and I still ask questions to nurses who think Im a complete idiot, because since I have my BSN, I should have walked into that place ready to care for the sickest of patients with skill and confidence (don't get me started lol). So yes, it will be tough at first, but it's not the worst thing ever. I'm just biding my time, racking up the experience and moving on to bigger and better things sooner than later. Good luck!