Rehabilitation is a specialty area with defined competencies and discrete nursing knowledge. Unless nurses have been educated in the basic competencies of rehabilitation, they are not prepared to provide safe, quality rehabilitative care to patients with chronic illnesses and disabilities. An evidence-based practice project was designed to address the need for education of the nursing staff working on an inpatient rehabilitation unit in Northwest Indiana. Roger's Diffusion of Innovations provided the theoretical framework for the project. A critical appraisal of the literature was conducted to determine best practice. The literature showed that education increased knowledge in a specialty area, and that obtaining certification, in particular, had positive benefits for nurses, organizations, and patients. This author implemented an innovation, the educational intervention, consisting of self-study modules on 15 basic rehabilitation nursing competency areas. The modules were developed by the author for 16 nurses (without prior rehabilitation experience) working on a new 11-bed inpatient rehabilitation unit. Each module included learning objectives, PowerPoint slides with notes, research articles, and best practice materials. Outcomes were evaluated using pre and post tests via the online Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN) Competency Assessment Tool (CAT). Data were analyzed using the SPSS14.0 statistical package. Paired t-tests demonstrated a significant difference between pre and post test scores on 14 of the 15 competencies measured. Findings suggested that education of inpatient rehabilitation nursing staff resulted in increased knowledge about basic rehabilitation nursing competencies.
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