Looking for nursing area with less physical expectations.

  1. I have worked in an ICU for 7 months now, and LOVE the job except I am VERY worried about the physical expectations. I am in a coronary care unit (ICU), which also gets overflow medicine and burn ICU patients. Our patients are often hundreds of pounds. I am 5'4" and 105 lbs. I injured my back and my right shoulder and arm a few weeks ago trying to pull a 250 lb total care patients up in bed with one other RN. Turns out it was probably a muscle strain and I am feeling a lot better now. I spoke with my manager about my concerns, and she said that it is the expectation that I am able to do the physical demands of the job and that I should try to recruit more help. Our unit has 13 beds and 6 nurses. We have no other help. I have a lot of trouble getting more than one other nurse at a time to help me b/c we're all busy. Sometimes, I'll ask a 3rd nurse and she'll say "it only took 2 of us yesterday to move him." My manager told me to learn better body mechanics, but even with the best body mechanics, I don't think that someone of my stature can safely maneuver these heavy weight patients. So I am thinking about applying for other types of nursing jobs. I had worked in the ED my first four months of being a new nurse (before switching to ICU) and there was lifting, but not nearly what I have with all of my total care patients in the ICU. Plus with the paramedics and more male nurses in that deparment, there was more "muscle." I do not know if I want to go back to the ED at this time. I have never worked on a "floor." Could anyone suggest adult floors that might have the most patients who can shift themselves in bed? I am also thinking about switching to peds, but am not sure. My manager seemed to support my moving to peds...said she'd even speak with the peds managers at my hospitals and that there were positions open. I think I would prefer to stick with adults, but don't want to leave the ICU just to end up doing almost as much lifting somewhere else. I would appreciate any suggestions on nursing floors I might find less physically dangerous...as I start to think about changing units.
    Thanks,
    Calicamper
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  2. 14 Comments

  3. by   gauge14iv
    That what hoyer lifts and such are for - there are ways to move large adults without injuring yourself. Your employer should be providing that equipment.
  4. by   piper_for_hire
    I work in ICU and PACU and I rarely lift anything but myself in the PACU. Hmmmm .... that reminds me that I need to go on a diet ....

    -S
  5. by   HappyNurse2005
    how about peds icu, ifyou are still interested in teh icu environment? though, i'm sure some teenagers could weigh as much as heavy adults,too.

    I do labor and delivery and don't do much heavy lifting. there is a lot of physical running back and forth, but not much heavy lifting.
  6. by   Jolie
    I hurt my back in school (bending over to pick up a piece of paper).

    That was one of the reasons I chose NICU as a new grad. My heaviest patient ever was about 12-13 lbs. There is some pushing of equipment required, but virtually no lifting.
  7. by   cardiacRN2006
    CCU is a very tough job. The whole thing with cardiac pts is rehab. When I worked in CVICU, we frequently had to ambulate people with chest tubes x2, foley, epicardial pacer, O2, the monitor...and then somehow help the pt walk (which was usually around 25ft)!
    I work in MSICU now, and there is none of that! My pts are ventilated and on propofol-usually. It is quiet and calm (for the most part). There is always another nurse around to help with turns. It's great!


    BTW, if you have a large pt, like the one who was over 250 lbs, put the bed in trendellenberg and then give him a pull up in bed. Way easier...
  8. by   ChocoholicRN
    I'm about the same size as you, so I know how it feels to have to pull up a heavy person in bed. I've found the best manuever is to put the bed in trendellenberg, make sure the pt's knees are bent, have somone use one arm to keep their head/shoulders up a little bit (if their shoulders and head are pressing into the bed, it will hurt them and be very hard to move them at all), and just slide them back!! ALWAYS bend at your knees, keep a wide space between your hands, and just give it your all (or as much as you can). Good luck and try not to hurt your back!!
  9. by   bellcollector
    If you are afraid of hurting your back you have VERY good reason to be. Nurses are number 1 in getting injured backs. I hurt my back in LTC 21mos ago lifting a 400# pt with the aid of another nurse and a not very functional lift. It has been horrible every since. Protect your back at all costs!!! Unfortunatly I am still not back to work and not sure what kind of nursing I will go back too so I can't really give you any good advice. However love the trendellenberg postion idea I never thought of that it's brilliant. Good Luck.
  10. by   augigi
    Can you try and investigate a "no lift" policy, such as using slide sheets, various other tools available and well-researched? Perhaps if you can illustrate to your manager the costs saved from injuries to staff, she'd be willing to have a trial. My CVICU introduced a global "no lift" policy and it made a tremendous difference. We also had assistants/porters (generally large men!) on a "lift team" that we could call, or who came around for the Xray rounds in the morning.
  11. by   Silverdragon102
    this really amazes me that hospitals don't invest in a lot of lifting equipment. This will certainly aid hospitas staff in moving patients without causing injury. Here in the UK and EU we have a no lifting policy with hoists on most wards with other moving aids like slide sheets, I can honestly say it makes a big improvement on less injury to the staff.

    I really hope you find a answer for your problem and find work suitable for your needs. Good luck and I am sorry that you have had to go through this
  12. by   balutpinoysabutuan
    TRY CORRECTIONAL NURSING(JAIL NURSE).NO HEAVY LIFTING REQUIRED!umpiron:
  13. by   RGN1
    Quote from Silverdragon102
    this really amazes me that hospitals don't invest in a lot of lifting equipment. This will certainly aid hospitas staff in moving patients without causing injury. Here in the UK and EU we have a no lifting policy with hoists on most wards with other moving aids like slide sheets, I can honestly say it makes a big improvement on less injury to the staff.

    I really hope you find a answer for your problem and find work suitable for your needs. Good luck and I am sorry that you have had to go through this
    This is exactly what I was going to say as I read down the posts but looks like SD beat me to it!

    The no lift policy in the UK must have already saved the backs of countless nurses. Sliding sheets, swivel boards, electric hoists etc all help us to ensure we can move patients safely without damaging ourselves.

    You should really bring this to the attention of the DON etc because surely it is in their interests not to have their staff off sick with injuries that they really could have prevented!
  14. by   calicamper
    Thank you all for your comments, suggestions. I had already spoken with my manager and she said that unfortunately, hospitals in our region weren't using lift teams. I just got the feeling from my converation with her that nothing was going to change soon on my unit. I don't feel safe. And I want to move on to another place where I would feel safer. I'm not a cripple, I can move weight. It's just these really heavy total care patients. I use trendelenberg position, but I guess the sheet doesn't slide well. Maybe that would help, like people wrote, a more slidy sheet.
    I was hoping a few more people would comment on what they've experienced lifting on some of the floors, as opposed to ICUs. I don't have any experience on floor units. I was wondering if it might be less, but then again, if you're walking the patients around, maybe it's not if you're practically being the PT. OB,NICU, and Jail nursing....you guys commented might be more back friendly. Hmmmm. Any thing else? I figure maybe office nursing too, and maybe psych nursing. I think ideally, I'd work in an ICU with lifting assistants for the really big patients. It's the really big ones who are making me concerned. I do like ICU. I know I could also look at urgent care type nursing too. Thank your for your comments/concerns/help.

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