"Safer" Specialties

  1. I have no idea yet where I might want to go with a specialty - starting school in the fall. My dad is an oncologist, so that intrigues me, though I know that the grief issues can be tough.

    In thinking about this decision, I want to consider occupational safety as well. I know there are risks in any type of nursing to BBP's, but would assume that OR, ER, and L&D would be among the most risky. Any ideas on specialties that might tend to be a little safer than others for blood exposure?

    Thanks!
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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   Nurse Ratched
    Is there a reason that you are especially concerned about blood-borne pathogen exposure? Occupational health probably gives flu shots and deals with people who get cuts/abrasions and are bleeding, so I'm not sure that would minimize your chances of exposure. I can't think of too many specialties (besides strictly paperwork stuff like insurance pre-cert and the like) that don't involve pt contact.

    Between personal protective equipment (gloves, etc.) and increasing safety of needle devices, needle sticks and other exposures are fewer all the time. Please don't limit yourself out of unnecessary excess fear .
  4. by   PMHNP10
    Quote from secondfiddle
    I have no idea yet where I might want to go with a specialty - starting school in the fall. My dad is an oncologist, so that intrigues me, though I know that the grief issues can be tough.

    In thinking about this decision, I want to consider occupational safety as well. I know there are risks in any type of nursing to BBP's, but would assume that OR, ER, and L&D would be among the most risky. Any ideas on specialties that might tend to be a little safer than others for blood exposure?

    Thanks!
    Of course I agree with nurse ratched's post, but to specifically respond to your quesion, I'd say education. Unfortunately to teach about the blood and guts you have to work in it first. Good luck.
  5. by   purplemania
    the nursery is about the "safest" place to work, but even neonates can have HIV.
  6. by   secondfiddle
    [QUOTE=Nurse Ratched]Is there a reason that you are especially concerned about blood-borne pathogen exposure? QUOTE]

    Yes, because I'm a worry wort!!! Also, I got concerned about the Hep B vaccine (I posted below about it - my brother had a serious autoimmune reaction to it). I did a search on it in this forum and found a rather scary thread about the prevalence of Hep C infection instead, and started to really worry.

    I'm really exited about nursing because I feel that I may have finally found a way to help people & do something with my life at the same time. But I've read some frightening things about the profession and fear sometimes that I don't know what I'm getting into.

    Thank you for the encouraging input - it is extremely helpful to try to get perspective from people actually in the field.

    BTW, love the name!
  7. by   Antikigirl
    I emplore you to really read up on your bloodborne pathogens and universal precautions because the information is a huge way to lower your risks...some risks are not under your control, but informing yourself is under your control and your biggest defense! You should know this stuff if you are going into healthcare, or even if your not...everyone should know it in my opinion. (it isn't like non medics don't find themselves in situations where bodily fluids are involved...like car accidents, CPR need, helping a friend with a laceration, etc.).

    You will never find a safe enviroment as long as you work with humans when it comes to bloodborne paths! Comes with the territory, and a risk all healthcare folks take daily. Best to be as informed as you can be...rationally informed mind you...some folks get overly scared reading the info...you must be rational! But all in all it is the defense you chose that lowers or increases your risks!

    Say you have a patient that has been vomiting for quite some time and now has blood in their vomit (this can happen in any specialty!). What precautions should you use? Gloves are a given, and are typically what most people rely on, but how about mask and eye protection or even a disposable cover for your uniform? Being informed and knowing the situation will help you to chose...like me, I know that vomit can be projected pretty well in small droplets so I will be protecting my own mouth, nose, eyes since they will be the closest to the patient..gloves a given for me..and protection for my uniform because I will be in contact with surfaces and others and should be alert to what I may spread to others! That will not only lower my risk to exposure, but others too...and that is what a good medic takes into consideration! And washing exposed skin...you betcha! (hair too...watch your hair or any dangling objects like lanyards or jewelry).

    If you are overly scared of these things, you may choose to really learn about it in school so you are best prepared! I took on things that I feared or was intimidated with during nursing school so that I got accustomed to them...I guess that is why the ED wound up being my favorite!!!! You mentioned oncology...ask your dad about the risks there...you have radiation risks from implanted therapies, lots of vomiting and incontenence, lots of pain issues which can mean shots and iv's, high risk of exposure from YOU or others towards your patients who are comprimised on immunity, etc! So here too you have your risks..best to be informed and strive to lower your own risks via education and information!

    All and all..the safest field of nursing if you are worried about these issues...well, not to get into it at all ...since that won't work...learn as much as you can about it...and be a proactive person too by teaching others! Now that is a win win!
  8. by   Antikigirl
    Hey this would be interesting...okay what are most medics worse fears when it comes to blood borne paths?

    When I was a newbie it was HIV, but being out in the field for a while...hep C is my main fear! It was shown to me in nursing school that nurses who worked in the past where gloves were not as in practice as they are today suffered astronomical rates of death from Hep C...not HIV/Aids, or the other heps! That stuck out in my mind so I did my own research...scared me actually...but I keep telling myself..use your universal precautions always, never faulter!

    I still see most people being afraid of HIV/Aids far more, and this is reasonable...but I see that HIV is being very studied and a cure hopefully will come soon...but hep C..not as much research (because moneys are invested in cancer or HIV...rightfully so again!) or help. So I felt I find hep C very sneeky and horrid....

    How about any of you????
  9. by   saskrn
    Quote from secondfiddle
    I have no idea yet where I might want to go with a specialty - starting school in the fall. My dad is an oncologist, so that intrigues me, though I know that the grief issues can be tough.

    In thinking about this decision, I want to consider occupational safety as well. I know there are risks in any type of nursing to BBP's, but would assume that OR, ER, and L&D would be among the most risky. Any ideas on specialties that might tend to be a little safer than others for blood exposure?

    Thanks!
    I do telephone triage right now. I work in a beautiful environment. Clean, no blood, no physical patient contact. But, to do my job, you need a minimum of 5 years of experience in multiple disciplines. I enjoy my position. It might be something to think about in the future, if you're interested.
  10. by   Antikigirl
    Question SaskRN...if you are phone triage...do they treat you like me when trying to gain employment afterwards (if you have tried). They tell me I have no hands on skills...which is far from the truth beyond! But phone triage...which I would LOVE...(ie see my nic, I use to triage)...doesn't that limit you if you need to change careers?

    I am not saying it should..I am just curious. I have been suprised since I work bedside and get NO respect for it and am told I lost all my skills when I am still doing them...if phone triage would have the same story? Thanks in advanced! I really want to go that way...I am very skilled at triage, want to be there, still trying...but no go so far (doesn't mean I won't give up...but gaining insite is always best ).
  11. by   danu3
    If you are willing to go to grad school, a couple specialties pop into my head.

    One is Nursing Informatics and the other is Nursing Attorney. Another potential one is Medical Searcher (need a master in Library and Information Science).

    -Dan
  12. by   saskrn
    Quote from TriageRN_34
    Question SaskRN...if you are phone triage...do they treat you like me when trying to gain employment afterwards (if you have tried). They tell me I have no hands on skills...which is far from the truth beyond! But phone triage...which I would LOVE...(ie see my nic, I use to triage)...doesn't that limit you if you need to change careers?

    I am not saying it should..I am just curious. I have been suprised since I work bedside and get NO respect for it and am told I lost all my skills when I am still doing them...if phone triage would have the same story? Thanks in advanced! I really want to go that way...I am very skilled at triage, want to be there, still trying...but no go so far (doesn't mean I won't give up...but gaining insite is always best ).
    I really have no idea. I never intend to give up my job, so I haven't worried about it.

    The way it works here with the union is that I can transfer between departments without too much of a problem. The nursing shortage is bad enough that nurses are welcome just about anywhere. And if a simple orientation is not enough, we always have the option of asking for some more time.

    I was supposed to be working ICU, but can't due to ortho reasons, but was told I was welcome back anytime.
  13. by   weetziebat
    Second Fiddle, Many of the 'safer' specialties require you to have a solid (at least 5 years) experience in working acute care. I work with MR/DD clients, and because I am the only nurse, I would have never felt comfortable making decisions without that background. But it is also a field where you are doing mainly paperwork, so you quickly lose your skills and do not have the opportunity to keep up with what is going on in acute care.

    My suggestion would be to continue on to get a Master's degree. You then are still right in the thick of all the action, but don't have to do bedside nursing. Thus less exposure to body fluids, if that really frightens you. Perhaps being a nurse practitioner would be something you'd enjoy.

    Good luck
  14. by   secondfiddle
    Thanks for the replies, everyone.

    Maybe I should rephrase my question a little - I think I made it seem like I don't want to come into contact with blood/fluids at all (obviously not possible)! I was just wondering if there were some specialties where chance of blood splatter or accidents were more common.

    But my main question for all of you is this - how dangerous is nursing, really? I think I may have myself irrationally scared from some of the things I've read (especially regarding Hep C). Does anybody have any statistics that might help make this a little clearer?

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