Certified Brain Injury Specialist with Kerri Nash, OTR/L, CBIS

Hello all! This week we are talking about the CBIS certification (Certified Brain Injury Specialist) with Kerri Nash!

The CBIS is a credential that certifies the practitioner has experience with, and works with individuals who experience brain injuries. This certification tells others that you have taken it upon yourself to take the next step in your professional career and show that you have expertise in this field.

In order to become certified, you must have completed 500 hours of direct contact experience with an individual or individuals with brain injury (must be paid employment or academic internship). Then you must complete a training (or self-study) from a Certified Brain Injury Specialist Trainer before you sit for the certification exam.


Information and Eligibility

Total Estimated Time to Complete Certification: 500 hours of direct experience + training/self-study + certification exam

Total Estimated Cost: $300 + $64 annual renewal

Kerri Nash graduated from AdventHealth University in Orlando, FL in 2018 and now works in acute rehab in Arizona, primarily working with patients who have neuro deficits. In her free time she loves to be outdoors with her fiancé- when it’s not 110+ degrees outside!

Why did you choose OT?

I majored in psychology in undergrad and knew I didn’t want to further my education in psychology. I honestly didn’t even know what OT was until I did my research. It was the perfect mixture of helping other people and using science/research to guide my practice.  I also helped take care of my grandma in high school and unknowingly was her own personal OT! I worked as an OT/PT tech after undergrad and fell in love with the science and creativity you get to use in OT. 

Why and when did you choose to become specialized in brain injury rehab?

The opportunity presented itself at work to become a CBIS. My job paid for the materials and the certification itself for my coworkers and I. I always knew I wanted to become a specialist in various neuro fields. My next task is to become a certified stroke specialist! 

Can you briefly explain this certification?

It’s a specialty certification where you get to use all the knowledge you learned in the material to help those who have had a brain injury. 

What settings have you worked in? Do you have a favorite? Why?

I have had fieldworks in all settings and I have worked in acute rehab and acute care, and acute rehab is my calling. I’ve laughed and cried with patients and you really get to see the person outside their diagnosis. A diagnosis should never define anyone! I always get to see the amazing progress they’ve made too. I keep in touch with a lot of my patients after they’ve discharged so I can keep up on their progress! Nothing is a better feeling than someone telling me how much of an impact that I’ve made on their life and recovery. 

What does a typical day with clients look like for you?

I typically see 5-6 patients a day. Most of my patients are those who have had a stroke, brain injury or spinal cord injury. All of our sessions are either 45 minutes or 90 minutes. 

How do you stay client-centered and occupation-based in your practice?

Obviously we assist with ADL tasks in acute rehab to make it occupation based. But beyond that, I do a LOT of activity analysis and break down exactly what’s inhibiting the patient from completing their occupations. We use quite a bit of modalities too as a bio mechanical approach including electrical stimulation, splinting, ArmeoSpring and the Bioness H200. Using my therapeutic use of self always keeps me grounded and client centered. 

How often do you use the skills you learned from acquiring this certification in your practice?

To be completely honest, I was using a lot of the tools I learned in the CBIS course before I received the certification. I have been working with people with brain injuries since I started so I feel like the CBIS course was a refresher-a great one though nonetheless!

What are the steps to acquiring the credentials? Is there a renewal process?

You have to have worked with people with brain injuries for approximately 800 hours in order to be qualified. You have to renew once per year ($65) and have 10 CEU courses related to brain injury. 

Do you get paid more for having this certification?

Unfortunately, I do not get paid more for the certification. However, it’s a great resume builder and feel like I will be more qualified for future jobs.

Can you name the various settings that a CBIS can practice?

Someone who has their CBIS can practice anywhere, but should be practicing where he/she works with people with brain injuries regularly. 

Do you believe acquiring the credentials is worth it?

I think it’s definitely worth it, especially since my employer paid for it. Like I said above, it’s a great resume builder and a way to make yourself more competitive where we’re seeing people having difficulty getting jobs in saturated areas. 

Do you have any other OT interests that you would like to pursue, or do you have any other certifications?

I want to pursue all things neuro! Any specialty I can get my hands on honestly! I love learning and using evidenced based research in my practice. 

Do you have any words of advice for someone wanting to pursue the CBIS credential?

Study hard! The exam was tough in my opinion but others said it was easy. Also ask your employer if they’ll help pay for the cost. It never hurts to ask and you’re helping market the company too!

Thank you Kerri for doing this interview and sharing about the CBIS!

Kerri has made herself available for further questions through her email knash1127@gmail.com


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