Role Descriptions

The Rehabilitation Nurse Educator

Case Management

The rehabilitation nurse educator functions in a variety of settings to develop and maintain the competency of nurses who care for individuals and groups with physical disability and chronic illness. The rehabilitation nurse educator assesses initial and ongoing learning needs, plans and implements programs to meet these needs, and evaluates the outcomes of plans on the learner, the organization, and patient care. The rehabilitation nurse educator serves as a role model by demonstrating how to apply theory and incorporate research findings into clinical practice.

The rehabilitation nurse educator accomplishes many of these functions through individual or collective activities of staff nurses, managers, and other interdisciplinary team members. The rehabilitation nurse educator recognizes that cultivating and maintaining collegial relationships among nurses and other interdisciplinary team members is important in achieving educational goals.

In many organizations, the rehabilitation nurse educator is responsible for more than the educators role. A major challenge, therefore, is to meet the demands associated with various other duties while maintaining a commitment to the purpose and the expected outcomes of this role.

Scope of practice of the rehabilitation nurse educator

The rehabilitation nurse educator uses the principles of rehabilitation nursing as defined within the established scope of rehabilitation nursing practice and standards developed by the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses. The scope of the rehabilitation nurse educators role encompasses the following activities:

  • Orientation: Designs programs to assess and develop competencies to equip the learner with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to function in the rehabilitation setting
  • Staff development: Assists the learner to apply theory to practice and to maintain and enhance competency
  • Continuing education: Designs programs that enhance the practice of rehabilitation nursing; assists the learner to comply with licensure and certification requirements
  • In-service education: Designs programs to increase competence in a specific area of practice, such as training in the use of new equipment and review of policies, procedures, and protocols that are required for the learner to function within a specified setting
  • Student affiliation: Coordinates student placement, orients students, and organizes preceptorships for undergraduate and graduate students
  • Patient education: Organizes patient education activities, instructs learners as to educational strategies, and/or assists in the development of patient education materials

Roles of the rehabilitation nurse educator

The roles of the rehabilitation nurse educator include, but are not limited to, those outlined below:

Program planner

  • Assesses learning needs through direct observation, formal needs assessment, and program evaluation or other organizational activity reports
  • Evaluates the overall staff development needs of the organization and the consumer
  • Develops programs consistent with organizational philosophy, purposes, and goals
  • Designs programs to maximize outcomes and minimize costs
  • Develops systems to measure the impact of programs and learning activities on individuals, groups, consumers, and the organization
  • Uses quality improvement techniques to evaluate the effectiveness of educational activities


  • Identifies and secures appropriate equipment and materials required to meet the learner’s needs effectively
  • Addresses the staff development and in-service educational needs of individuals and groups
  • Designs educational offerings and learning experiences based on adult learning principles, current nursing theory, and the standards of rehabilitation nursing practice
  • Fosters a climate that promotes open communication and facilitates the professional growth of the learner
  • Provides learning experiences that are consistent with expected educational outcomes

Record keeper

  • Maintains educational records according to the requirements of organizational accrediting bodies and regulatory agencies
  • Develops reports regarding the effectiveness of programs
  • Provides a structure for disseminating appropriate educational information to individual learners, management, accrediting bodies, and regulating agencies

Role model

  • Participates in the overall quality improvement process of the organization
  • Demonstrates methods for gathering, evaluating, and applying research findings to rehabilitation nursing practice
  • Demonstrates how to apply theoretical information to rehabilitation nursing practice
  • Advocates for people with disabilities within the organization and the community at large

Patient advocate

  • Provides educational offerings that positively influence patient care outcomes
  • Prepares practitioners to meet evolving healthcare trends while ensuring that practice is consistent with patients’ rights

Team member

  • Uses the consultation process to facilitate the achievement of the goals of the individual learner, the department, and the organization
  • Uses interdisciplinary collaboration to meet the entire rehabilitation team’s educational needs and to ensure the appropriate use of educational resources

Nursing leader

  • Acts as an agent of change within the organization, the profession, and the community at large
  • Contributes to the development of a department’s and/or an organization’s philosophy, purpose, and goals
  • Offers an educational perspective in all endeavors that affect nursing practice and patient care outcomes

This role description was developed by the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses Educators Special Interest Group.


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