Who's got your back? Literally?

  1. So, not to start another "I want to quit my residency program before I finish...what can I do?" thread, but....I want to quit my residency program before I finish. And I'm wondering if anyone else has found themselves in this position.

    Let me back up a second.

    I don't want to quit my residency. I feel I can't go on. I graduated in May and passed my boards in July...then got hired in an AMAZING ER residency program at my dream hospital...basically, it was all sunshine and unicorns because all the things I'd planned on since starting nursing school seemed to be coming true!

    But there's a big problem. During nursing school I was diagnosed with a torn and herniated lumbar disc. That maybe should have been a red flag to me, but darn it, I'm stubborn, and I don't like to quit. I did everything I could think of to get my back feeling better...eventually it did, and I thought the herniation must be gone. All summer I went to the gym consistently, working out and strengthening my core, and felt like I was in great shape to start my new job.

    Fast-forward to my first clinical shift in my new job and....uh oh. My back started feeling stiff. Day 2: back is really aching. Days 3-5 (all in a row): I can barely get out of bed. Now I'm in constant pain, the herniation is back with a vengeance, and I'm facing the harsh reality that I simply can't go on.

    It's not that I don't want to. I wish I could. But my current job has a contract (grace period ends in a few weeks), and I know I need to take my exit stage right before then because the simple truth is I physically cannot continue. My doctor told me that even if we get the pain under control now, it's going to keep coming back if I continue doing the things that aggravate it (i.e., 12 hour shifts during which I walk an insane number of miles and get to sit down ~45 minutes/shift). But the current therapy isn't helping. In fact I feel like the pain just keeps getting worse.

    So now what do I do? Has anyone had to deal with something like this before? I don't have enough experience for the "cush" jobs...but I simply can't think of a hospital clinical job that I can handle.

    Let's be honest - I'm not as young as I used to be, this is my second bachelor's, and if I were 22 and had never had a back problem I would be happy as a clam where I'm at. But I'm not. I was almost in tears walking to my car after my last shift, and it took me twice as long to get there, because I was in so much pain. But where can I go? Who is going to hire me if they know I have a bad back? Am I finished in nursing? And, on a practical note, do I put this month and a half of residency on my resume going forward?

    I'm disappointed...I'm kind of brokenhearted. I wouldn't miss 12 hour shifts and rotating weekends...that's for sure. But I have student loans I need to pay off, and I'm kind of scared of what lies ahead.

    Any advice, thoughts, or commiseration would be welcomed!
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  2. 2 Comments

  3. by   AJJKRN
    Take a deep breath and then sigh

    I have two back injuries. An L4-5 for the past almost twenty years that now thankfully can be tamed by rest, heat, and NSAIDS. My C6-7 however is a whole other story. I'm having an exacerbation right now of my neck and am contemplating whether I'm being forced to leave the bedside or wait it out and hope it will go back into hibernation for a few more years.

    Only you know your body and can make this huge decision but I would start putting out feelers for jobs like DON/ADON, case management, etc. and yes I would put your current job on your resume with giving your current job a heads up ASAP.

    If not, look into FMLA and if it's a feasible option for you.

    Good luck.
  4. by   kbrn2002
    I don't know where you live but depending on the job market finding something less brutal on your body might not be impossible, even for a new grad. We have several assisted livings, group homes and home health agencies in our area that hire RN's strictly as managers, no floor work at all. I don't know if that type of nursing appeals to you, with with a bad back if you want to stay in nursing it may be your best option.

    As for your current job it is only fair to talk to them and let them know that you are not physically capable of performing the work you were hired to do. If you have the opportunity to do so before you are officially under contract so much the better.

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