A Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN) has achieved certification through the gaining of extensive knowledge and experience within the field of rehabilitation nursing. A rehabilitation nurse may fill many roles, but his or her overall goal is to assist individuals who have been disabled (temporarily or permanently) or suffer from a chronic illness that debilitates their independence or abilities to perform normal tasks. Additionally, rehabilitation nurses promote the health of patients and prevent complications that are common due to illnesses, injuries or disabilities.
Rehabilitation nurses provide many services to their patients. Not only do they work to provide therapy, comfort and education, but they also support their patients when making efforts to adapt capabilities, achieve reasonable independence, make health-conducive adjustments and overcome challenges and obstacles due to illness or injury. They work with patients to provide them comprehensive and compassionate end-of-life care, along with making them comfortable and pain-free.
Stroke patients, cancer patients, accident victims, young patients and old patients are all included in the categories of patients that rehabilitation nurses serve. They help patients who have lost use of normal thought processes through brain injuries, assist those who have lost use of a limb due to illness or injury, coordinate services for patients whose conditions have declined to the extent that regular care is difficult to administer and provide care in many other situations.
Rehabilitation nurses work in a variety of roles. Many nurses find themselves transitioning into roles that are not traditional nursing roles that work in the clinical setting. Some move into the academic world and become instructors within nursing programs or schools. Others become in-service instructors who present seminars and programs to smaller groups of nurses throughout the United States. Many rehab nurses become researchers after acquiring certification, and they work to find new techniques and methods to help patients recuperate after debilitation. Some nurses choose a role as a consultant. As a consultant, they advise hospitals and clinics about their rehabilitation programs or policies and help them to revise them to proper standards. The insurance industry draws some nurses to it, and certified rehab nurses find excellent opportunities working as insurance nurses. Another role that is commonly filled by rehabilitation nurses is that of case manager. Case managers collaborate with the patient (and his or her family) and the providers to ensure the best care plan possible is established.
For nurses who choose to stay within the practice of working as a nurse, many additional roles open up to them, too. Rehab nurses fill roles of clinical nurse specialists, home health nurses, community nurses, head nurses, nurse managers, nurse clinician, nurse practitioners and nursing administrators.
Just as the roles they fill are quite varied, the settings in which certified rehabilitation nurses work in are very different, as well. Nurses may find work in regular clinics or hospitals, but may expand into working at educational institutions, home health agencies, private practice, long-term care facilities, rehabilitation facilities and sub-acute units, to name just a few.
There are some eligibility requirements one must meet in order to become a CRRN. In addition to having a current, unrestricted registered nurse’s license, a candidate must have acquired at least 2 years of practice in the rehabilitation nursing setting within the 5 years prior to applying for examination. If a nurse does not meet the practical requirement, he or she may have practiced for at least 1 year (within the previous 5 years) and achieved at least 1 year of advanced study. Additionally, a rehabilitation nurse must pass the CRRN examination in order to acquire CRRN status.
Benefits of CRRN Certification
In addition to being able to put the Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN) credentials behind your name, there are other benefits of becoming certified as a rehab nurse. When considering all of the studying and work that goes into obtaining the credentials, the question is often asked, “Is it worth it?”
The CRRN program was developed in 1984 by the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN). It later was turned over to the Rehabilitation Nurses Certification Board (RNCB). Currently, in the United States, there are nearly 10,000 CRRNs.
There are many benefits to becoming certified. The first is that, according to the “American Journal of Nursing,” certified nurses experience more personal growth and job satisfaction after becoming certified in their fields. The journal further reported that they feel more confident in identifying early signs or symptoms of complications, so they are able to initiate quicker treatment for patients. Furthermore, certified nurses experience fewer errors in patient care than they did prior to certification.
In “Rehabilitation Nursing,” a study reported that the more CRRNs that are employed at a facility directly decreases the average length of stay for patients. For every 6 percent in CRRN employment, the average length of stay is deceased by one day. This indicates that CRRNs are capable of providing more effective care to patients than non-certified professionals.
CRRNs experience salary increases in comparison to their uncertified counterparts. Experiencing pay hikes anywhere from $3 to $10 per hour, CRRNs’ salaries often increase quickly, and CRRNs are considered for more promotions. CRRNs can expect their salaries to increase by $10,000 to $20,000 per year. New positions in management or leadership roles may become available.
Working as a CRRN opens up many new professional opportunities outside of working as a rehabilitation nurse within a healthcare facility or clinic. After becoming certified, many CRRNs seek additional education to become instructors working in educational nursing programs or schools. Some travel to area facilities providing instruction during in-services or special seminars.
Other certified rehab nurses transition to working for insurance companies as insurance nurses. Insurance companies use the skills and knowledge of CRRNs to determine suitable care plans for clients and patients.
Benefits of CRRN Certification
Consulting opportunities open up to some CRRNs. Many smaller, rural clinics and health care facilities need advice and input about their policies, administration and methods. CRRNs can visit a facility, analyze the facility’s current methods and policies and recommend adjustments, changes and new policies. Sometimes consultants work with a facility in their patient education program. In rehabilitation, patient education is most necessary in order for patients to achieve reasonable levels of independence and gain back lost skills or movement.
Some CRRNS find new positions as case managers in larger facilities. Case managers collaborate with the patient (and his or her family) and the providers to ensure the best care plan possible is established. They sometimes work with community resources to engage new possibilities for rehab patients.
In short, the CRRN certification opens up new doors for a rehab nurse. Additionally, the certification provides increased knowledge, confidence and abilities, along with the respect and admiration of one’s peers, colleagues and superiors.
CRRN Exam Expectations
It’s important to know what to expect when it’s time to take the Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN) examination. There are several rules to abide by, along with preparing for the type of examination that will be given.
It’s important to arrive to the testing center at least 15 minutes early. Test takers who arrive after the test has started will not be admitted to the testing area, and they will forfeit their testing fee. There are several things to attend to at check-in, so it’s important to arrive a few minutes early.
Identification is required at the time of check-in at the testing center. After presenting your confirmation notice for taking the examination, you must present identification that includes a photo and signature. A driver’s license, government-issued ID or passport will suffice for identification. Unacceptable forms of identification include school IDs, credit cards, gym memberships or warehouse club membership cards.
Certain things are prohibited from the testing area. Any kind of study materials are banned from the area. Study materials include reference books, papers or notes. Electronic devices are not allowed within the testing location. Electronic devices include (but are not limited to) laptops, pagers, cell phones, cameras, alarms, signaling devices, recording devices or any device that can store information. Storage space will be provided for personal items when test takers are busy taking the examination in the testing area.
Removal of any examination materials, notes or documents from the testing area is strictly prohibited. The test is copyrighted and all questions are to remain confidential. Removal of information about the test from the testing area may result in a designation of misconduct which causes one’s scores to be forfeited.
Interaction between test takers and questions about the content of the examination are not allowed in the testing area after the directions have been provided and the test has started.
As the test begins, students are given last minute instructions and start the process of answering questions. The examination is administered on a computer, and no special computer knowledge or typing skills are required to take the exam. The test consists of 150 multiple-choice questions and 25 pretest questions (not used for scoring) for a total of 175 questions. Test takers have up to 3 hours to take the entire examination.
Questions appear one at a time on the computer screen. Test takers may return to previous questions to review them or answer them, if time allows. Candidates are encouraged to answer each and every question, as there is no penalty for incorrectly answered questions.
CRRN Examination Application Process
There are many aspects to the examination application process that a Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse candidate must go through in order to take the exam that ensures certification. In addition to meeting eligibility requirements, a candidate must complete the application, acquire references and mail all necessary materials by the required deadline. Candidates should keep in mind these guidelines when applying for the CRRN examination:
- Candidates must meet the eligibility requirements. Candidates must hold a current registered nurse license that is unrestricted and not suspended. The license must be in good standing at the time of application.
Additionally, candidates must meet one of two more criteria:
- Obtained at least 2 years of experience in a rehabilitation setting (within 5 years prior to the time of application) OR
- Obtained at least 1 year of experience in a rehabilitation setting and at least 1 year post-baccalaureate education (within 5 years prior to the time of application)
- Applicants are advised to review the candidate handbook prior to filling out the application. Any questions should be addressed to the Rehabilitation Nursing Certification Board (RNCB) prior to filling out the application. Failure to comply with all instructions pertaining to the application may result in the denial of an application and forfeiture of the application fee.
- Candidates must complete the application and sign it. The application contains space for personal information, which is mainly used for contacting candidates about their applications and scheduling of examination times. Professional information is requested in the second half of the application. Candidates should include their maiden names, if it is helpful in confirming past employment and experience. Some applications are audited, so candidates are advised to be as correct as possible with past professional experience entries. The application must be signed by two professional colleagues (one of whom must be an immediate supervisor or a CRRN).
- Pay the examination fee. The examination fee is different for RNCB members and non-members. The application fee must accompany the application when it is sent in.
- Candidates must mail the completed application in by the deadline. Any applications that arrive after the set deadline will be subject to a late fee. Applications may not be emailed or faxed.
- Applicants may receive word about their applications within 15 business days of receipt. Any application with incomplete information will be kept open for 90 days. However, after 90 days, the application will be closed and the application fee will be forfeited.
- Candidates whose applications have been accepted and approved will be invited to schedule a time for the CRRN examination. Applicants will receive notice to schedule an exam by email. Applicants are advised to keep careful track of their inboxes and junk mail folders, in case spam filters cause their notifications to be sent to other places than the inbox.
- Applicants must schedule their examinations within 1 year of application submission. If an applicant fails to schedule his or her examination within 1 year, the application fee will be forfeited and the application will be closed.
CRRN Exam Preparation
After gaining eligibility to test to become a Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN), the last step in the process is to pass the examination. The examination, administered twice a year, is a 175 multiple-question examination that must be completed within 3 hours. It is a comprehensive evaluation of a candidate’s overall knowledge of rehabilitation nursing theory and practice, along with assessing one’s knowledge of other related issues.
Unlike some other nursing examinations, the Rehabilitation Nursing Certification Board (RNCB) does not endorse or sponsor a particular review course or study guide to help test takers prepare for the examination. However, the RNCB encourages candidates to make use of a list of 13 resources (including text books) in order to accumulate the information necessary for preparation. The list is available in the “CRRN Candidate Handbook.”
Candidates are advised to clearly review information pertinent to the test content outline and task statements. The four content areas include:
- Legislative, Ethical, Economic and Legal Issues: 21 percent of the examination
- Rehabilitation Team/Community Re-entry: 35 percent of the examination
- Rehabilitation Nursing Models and Theories: 11 percent of the examination
- Functional Health Patterns: 33 percent of the examination In depth studying should be completed for each of the four content areas. For instance, each core area includes several sub-topics that are necessary for sufficient test preparation. Here are some places to start with each core area:
- Legislative, Ethical, Economic and Legal Issues: Requires knowledge of laws and regulatory agencies specifically related to rehabilitation (Medicaid, HIPAA, Medicare, CMS, JCAHO, CPS, OSHA and Workers Comp), healthcare power of attorney and abilities to arrange discharge planning.
- Rehabilitation Team/Community Re-entry: Requires knowledge of enhanced communication skills, resources and cost considerations and injury, chronic illness and disability process and prognosis.
- Rehabilitation Nursing Models and Theories: Requires knowledge of standards of care, nursing diagnosis and process and models and theories. Other skills required to pass this section may include implementing standards of care, applying rehabilitation scope of practice and application of the nursing process.
- Functional Health Patterns: Requires knowledge in basic physiology of health and diseases, anatomy and physiology across the lifespan (swallowing, skin integrity), anatomy and physiology of bladder and bowel (constipation, incontinence, diarrhea, retention) and pharmacology.
There are many other areas to study within the parameters of each content core. Candidates should review the handbook and website concerning the core content areas of the examination for more details.
Test takers are recommended to use their own methods of studying. Some work better in groups than individually. Others use memory aids to remember the information. Many use outlines or create recordings and listen to them. Test takers should choose their own methods of studying to gain the most benefit from their time.
Candidates who prepare ahead of time can also avoid test anxiety, which is quite common when taking this significant of a test. Other ways to avoid test anxiety is to relax and stretch during the examination, ignore negative or derogatory comments made by other test takers, eat well and get plenty of rest prior to the examination, wear comfortable clothing and visualize a positive testing experience.
Test takers can use sample questions to practice taking the examination. While doing this, candidates should remember that they will want to answer at least half of the questions by the half-way mark (1 1/2 hours) of the test. Test takers should refrain from overanalyzing questions, and should read all answer options before selecting the final answer choice. Candidates shouldn’t limit their answers to the policies held by their organizations or workplaces; the tests refer to national standards.
Finally, test takers are encouraged to prepare to answer all questions on the examination. There are no penalties for answering incorrectly.