A framework for the role of Registered Nurses in the specialty practice of rehabilitation nursing in Australia

Authors

  • Julie Pryor BA MN RN CM MRCNA,

    1. Senior Lecturer in Rehabilitation Nursing, Rehabilitation Nursing Research and Development Unit, University of Western Sydney and Royal Rehabilitation Centre Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

      Research Associate, Rehabilitation Nursing Research and Development Unit, University of Western Sydney and Royal Rehabilitation Centre Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Clair Smith BA MOrgPsych

    1. Senior Lecturer in Rehabilitation Nursing, Rehabilitation Nursing Research and Development Unit, University of Western Sydney and Royal Rehabilitation Centre Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

      Research Associate, Rehabilitation Nursing Research and Development Unit, University of Western Sydney and Royal Rehabilitation Centre Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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Julie Pryor, Rehabilitation Nursing Research and  Development Unit, Royal Rehabilitation Centre Sydney, PO Box 6, Ryde, NSW 1680, Australia. E-mail: pryorj@doh.health.nsw.gov.au

Abstract

Aim of the study.  This study sought to explore systematically the role of Registered Nurses working in rehabilitation in Australia.

Background.  Rehabilitation has been identified as an important aspect of health care. However, evidence of a comprehensive investigation of the nurses' role in rehabilitation cannot be found. From Australia, in particular, no research has been published in this area.

Methods.  This study used a qualitative approach by engaging 13 nurses in one-to-one interviews and a further 21 in focus group discussions. Thematic analysis was conducted on the interview and focus group data.

Findings.  Seven domains of practice were identified and are suggested as a framework for the specialty practice of rehabilitation nursing. They capture the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of rehabilitation nursing practice. Central to this practice is a rehabilitative approach to patient care, teaching and coaching, and continual assessment. The nurses explained in detail how these aspects of rehabilitation nursing differentiate their practice from that of their acute care colleagues.

Conclusion.  The rehabilitative approach is one of a variety of approaches to nursing care, but should not be seen as the exclusive domain of rehabilitation nurses. Rehabilitation belongs in every nurse's toolkit.

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