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Developmental Disability Nurse

LPN, ASN or BSN

Also known as a Special Needs Nurse, Developmental Disability Nurses help patients with mental or developmental disabilities like Down’s syndrome, autism, and more. These nurses also educate patients’ families about the disability and provide emotional support. As a Developmental Disability Nurse, you can work in a variety of settings, from hospitals to schools, to private businesses and patients’ homes.

Things You'll Do:

  • Helping patients eat, and perform basic bodily functions
  • Teaching patients to move on their own
  • Assisting patients with language and communication skills

Your job characteristics:

  • Multifaceted
  • Structured
  • Patient-facing
  • Independent

How You'll Get There
  • Get Your
    Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) certification, Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN
  • Pass Your
    National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)
  • If you’ve passed your NCLEX-RN, you can start working as a Registered Nurse.
    More about becoming an RN ›
  • You’ll need to work for a minimum of two years in developmental disabilities before applying to take the developmental disabilities certification exam from the Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association (DDNA).
    More about this requirement ›
  • Become a
    Developmental Disability Nurse

More About this Specialty
  • Where You
    Can Work

    • Hospitals
    • Schools
    • Patients’ homes

    find jobs
  • What Else You
    Can Expect

    • You’ll have the opportunity to develop long-term relationships with your patients while helping improve the quality of their lives.
    • You’ll be trained to interpret and anticipate the needs of your patients who can’t communicate them with you.

  • Meet
    Dan

    Psychiatric Nurse, RN

    I knew nursing would be demanding, but the rewards far outweigh any drawbacks because every day I wake up...

    read his story
  • Meet
    Jess

    Psychiatric Nurse, RN

    Nursing is so much more than I ever though it would be. I am challenged every day to lead people, to make decisions...

    read his story
  • Meet
    Lorraine

    Psychiatric Nurse, RN

    As a girl, I had the desire to be a nurse, but thought it unachievable. My female role models...

    read her story

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