Nurses in Transition: Where to go next after injury and/or disability?


  1. What a trip...you're hurt or injured....as an injured nurse you are suddently 'worthless' to your employer...some injured employees are treated so badly...(I wasn't but observe others who are)..we feel like our options are so limited...we feel like failures because we can't 'fix' it......after so many years of experience we are suddenly stopped in our tracks....with out income....with pain and fear.

    It's really an emotional roller coaster for sure. And we're left to pick up the pieces and move on with our lives.......:imbar

    This is personal stuff but I feel like sharing...anybody else out there who wants to cuss and discuss this issue feel free here or PM me....

    I'm bored at home waiting for a neck fusion surgery (injured due to MVA). I'm a critical care junkie type to boot...so I do enjoy gettin' into the critical care topics to kill time and stimulate a few brain cells.....LOL!

    Not sure how capable I will be to do any bedside critical care again after the surgery but I am hopin' for the best.....would love to go back...but know I will be a comp risk and hospitals may not want me.

    Anybody else in similar straits? What have you done that helps? Any words of wisdom or stories to share re 'moving onward' or starting over again after disabling injury?

    Again PM's are great if too hard to post...I know this can be a hard topic..lots of anger and depression.:stone


    Luv ya'll! :kiss
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  2. 14 Comments

  3. by   NRSKarenRN
    What can I do with this nursing degree?
    http://www.tobeanurse.com/degree.html
  4. by   mattsmom81
    Thank you Karen...I'm in search mode now and appreciate the help!
  5. by   live4today
    Good morning Mattsmom,

    First, (((HUGS))) to you this mid Texas morn! I know exactly how you feel here since I've been on a medical sabbatical for 5 loooooooonnnnnnggggggg years now. Boy, do I miss those huge nursing paychecks! Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever fully recover from my nursing injuries. I'm wishing I had "named a patient" to my injury as Workman's Comp wanted me to do in order for me to "collect" for the injury, but how in the heck can we name just one patient when it's been a multitude of patients over the course of our nursing career that has caused our on the job injuries? I wasn't about to LIE and say, oh yeah, Mr. or Mrs. "X" in room 333 caused my injury?

    I will email you one on one about how I learned to overcome my 'sudden life change' after my injury that has kept me from practicing nursing as I once enjoyed it. I could have become a paper pusher, taken a desk job, become an advice nurse by telephone, but I have waaaaayyyy too much energy for those kind of jobs. My body has got to be moving, my feet miss the rapid surge of energy I got when working as a nurse!

    What I will share here with you is that I have written two big books since my sabbatical began in April 1997, and there's plenty more books yet to be written by these hands - that's for sure. Now, if I could just win the lotto, or regain my big fat nursing paychecks once again, I could self-publish my books since it's cheaper that way. Otherwise, I need a minimum of $10,000 to publish "one book" through a publisher who does it all for the writer from editing to production. That's how I've kept myself busy these past five years.

    I've never allowed my nursing license to go dormant, and have always kept my BCLS up to date just in case a miracle happens for me to work again in nursing. Actually, once we move again to our next location, I plan to take a nurse refresher course and try for a job in Newborn Nursery again since I can only lift about 10 pounds max now. What would I do with the 11 pounder some of those Moms give birth to??? :chuckle Guess I could roll them over with the left hand and burp 'em with the right one! :chuckle

    Meanwhile, I am currently in the process of becoming a Certified Child Care Provider here on the military base where we live. They are sooooo excited to get me since they aren't used to getting RNs in this capacity- a pediatric trained RN at that! Apparently, there are a lot of babies with special needs that need one on one care. The government even pays the special care person monthly for taking care of these precious little angels. So far, I have only agreed to take infants. On this post, if a Provider keeps infants, they are only allowed to keep a Maximum of 3 infants. Once those infants reach age 3, they are pulled from infancy care, and must be placed in an older child program for the safety of God's littlest angels.

    Well, that is just a brief glimpse into this semi-retired RNs life today. Hope it helps you contemplate some additional thought for your own situation. (((HUGS))) and :kiss
    Last edit by live4today on Apr 5, '02
  6. by   mattsmom81
    You are like me in that you enjoy putting your thoughts on paper...good luck getting published!

    The child care idea and newborn nursery is a great idea....babies are light and easy to hold....I couldn't handle the older toddlers for sure....I have heard newborn nurses complain about bending over isolettes though so I'll have to see how my neck does postop.

    Yes, the money is a big problem....I have received a small settlement that I used to eliminate some big bills so I could stay at home and not worry about paying those same bills.....LOL. We still have a child at home so we have been having trouble making ends meet.

    Would love to find a lower stress, non lifting nursing job ...have been contemplating paper push jobs like MDS coordinator for LTC too.....

    Thanks for the input as always Renee! Have fun this week with Brownie...sorry I couldn't join you but I'm there in spirit...
  7. by   live4today
    Hi mattsmom,

    I have yet to hear from Brownie! Hopefully she will call soon. I gave her my home phone number. I'll let you know when I hear from her.

    As for your comment about bending over the isolettes? I didn't have to bend over too many when I worked Newborn Nursery because I worked in a military hospital where the LPNs and the other military medics dared the RNs to touch one of "their babies". :chuckle The RNs were always told to sit at our desk and "just do the paperwork" on the newborn, etc., and let them do the "fun stuff" -- taking care of junior or juniorette. :chuckle I'm sure things in a civilian hospital's NBN would be so much differently, but those little darlings are tons of loving to work with. I also loved teaching the new parenting classes before the moms went home if the baby was their first. It's a 'happy' unit to work on most of the time. Only one baby died the entire time I worked Newborn Nursery, but shipped plenty of sick ones out to the University Hospital since at that time that particular military hospital did not have a NICU.

    I have a feeling we'll be back to nursing in some way or another, so stay encouraged!
    Last edit by live4today on Apr 5, '02
  8. by   Huganurse
    I can not say that I have not thought about the possibility of this happening to me and it is scary!!! I am so sad for you and all the other nurses who are unable to work due to injury. Renee, I thought the same thing that you are going through, how in the world would I be able to prove to workers comp that my injury was work related when it would not be any one incident or patient that causes the injury??? It scared me to think I would be in the position that you are in now! You are both great nurses as I can tell by what you post with a world of knowlege and experience. I know that you are worth a lot especially with the shortages. More recently hospitals and others are looking into ways to keep the injured nurses on the payroll and place them in other non physical positions.

    One of the nurses I work with at the hospital took a unit secretary position, she was loved by all of us and a real part of the team because she could pull orders! She liked it because she was able to keep her feet wet even though they were propped up on the chair and on the days she was up to it she would help out with occasional procedures, as she improved over a 1 1/2 year period she worked both positions, increasing bedside time a litlle at a time. She started by working with another nurse, then took 1/2 a shift on the floor and 1/2 at the desk, increasing as able, she eventually returned to the bedside full time. This was after a major MVA.

    I would think any return to the bedside would have to be built up to full time over an extended period of time. There is no way that anyone would be able to come in full speed after being down so long. I was only down a few months but I still feel like I'm recovering and it's been 4 years! I'll get there and if I'd just exercise right I'd probably already be there. The older I get the harder it is to bounce back.

    I did decide to get away from the bedside after a stint in rehab. My back could have taken it when I was young but not after all these years of nurse abuse. I still go in and work on occasion but I know if I stayed full time it was just a matter of time before I'd be flat on my back getting rehab myself.

    Oh, the hoyers are located always right where we need them so they are always used because they are so conveniant. In the hospital it is hard to take the time to find the lift, wheel it down the hall when the wheels are stiff and going in different directions, then try to get it into the room and then to the bed, lastly it's not easy to get the patient in and up smoothly. Geesh, I'm sweating just thinking about it! Ten minutes after you decide to use the lift and you get it in place they patient has already eliminated in the bed. Sorry those lifts just don't work for me. I can have them up and on the bedside commode in 30 seconds so that's what I am going to do, in the hospital, because I'm over loaded with patients and I don't have time to mess with that lift.

    It's no wonder there are not more hurt nurses out there. I wonder how many of them left the bedside for other areas, we know they've left nursing due to the injuries or risks, how many of you are out there like mattsmom, biting at the bit to get back?
    mattsmom, I think you need to re-set your goals and take small steps a little at a time. If you go back and are not physically ready, you may re-injure yourself.

    I wish the employers would wake up and smell the coffee. mattsmom, have you thought about going back slowly? Perhaps the hospital could assign you a CNA that would help you in the unit with the heavy work. I would like to think that the hospitals are going to get more creative to bring some of the nurses back to the bedside, including the injured ones!

    I thought the fed govt passed laws that says employers have to find accomidations for the injured worker but I'm probably dreaming. Other professions and jobs make accomidations for PI why can't the hospitals.

    I am sending lots of HUGs your way! and prayers too! Hang in there!

    I know it must be hard, one of the hardest things you've had to go through. I would like to suggest that anyone who finds themselves in this position to run to you doc, even if you think you are not depressed, for an evaluation, because if you are not depressed about the situation I would be surprised. Being depressed will slow the healing process and can lead to more health problems or even worse.

    As humans and nurses I think we are programmed to be productive, working people and this situation is just plain against our grain. I would think it would be harder for a nurse to go through this kind of thing than it is for some non-nurses. There are so many different jobs that nurses can do that do not include lifting that I would think that a nurse could find job and personal satisfaction in non bedside positions.

    I also think it would be very important for nurses to have some human healing type contact. Perhaps volunteering to sit with patients when you are up to it or well enough would help to satisfy that requirement.

    And don't forget to socialize, it is so easy to shut yourself up in the house and forget about the fact that there is a whole world out there waiting for you to embrace it and the people who live in it... so get out if you can, invite in if you can't.
    Keep your spirit high, do ti chi, or yoga, or aromatherepy, hobbies, anything to keep yourself going in mind and spirit.

    Writing books is great, it is something I have always wanted to do, and I spend alot of time writting my web site and on the computer myself. Don't get me wrong here, but I do worry about those who spend too much time in front of the computer screen. I don't think it's a healthy thing when it is a primary activity. It's just a computer and can not fill the void you feel for people and human physical contact and social interaction. Been there, done that, you know... LOL.
    Last edit by Huganurse on Jun 30, '02
  9. by   4XNURSE
    Mattsmom,

    For me it was a plane crash. - My airplane. - My mistake. (see the signature line) Nearly destroyed my left leg and foot. (Almost killed me too, but who's keeping track of those things.) No day since without pain.

    Tried to go back to work before I was off the narcotics. - BAAAADDDD idea. Worked a few agency shifts before I relized I needed to wait till I was off the drugs. I was trying to prove to myself I could make it back. I did, but I had to stop and take more time to heal. I've not been sucessful at full time clinical/bedside nursing since.

    What I have been sucessful at is part-time clinical nursing, and full-time nursing education. I love teaching. I'm usually pretty good at it, too. (We all have our days.....) Teaching others to do the things I love is almost as good as doing them myself.

    I have seen enough of your posts to believe you would make a really good teacher/nurse educator. Whether you went into a nursing school or into a facility, as a clinical nurse educator, You would be able to share with others, the skills and attitudes that you hold within yourself now.

    - You can get there from here! -

    just my $ .02

    ken
  10. by   P_RN
    I too "got the T-Shirt."

    Fortunately (fortunately?) in SC you don't have to name a patient just have evidence that the injury occurred. Not that that little rule stopped the employer from calling me every name in the book and fighting me for 2 1/2 years.

    So first you cry.....(sorry Betty Rollins) and then.....well it has been
    28 months and 4 days now...but who is counting.

    I get up. Put on my left leg brace... eat a little cereal and read the paper.

    That in all its variations is pretty much how I spend my day. Oh yes that and this place. What ME worry? Yes every day.

    P
  11. by   LasVegasRN
    I got out of patient care by choice. After years of ICU I got to the point where I needed more tissue than the one's I was handing out. Somewhere along the way, empathy swayed to full blown sympathy and mourning for others. I just didn't feel I could care for others crying along with them and their loved one's. So, what to do?
    My first job out of ICU was discharge planning. Okay, different, but MAN these insurance companies can be heartless. Yeah, so you're 82 and live alone, but you have met your 3 day length of stay for your procedure, GET OUT.
    Then I got into case management. Not your direct hands-on patient care, but, still being the patient advocate and having the ability to coordinate their care. I've been a case manager ever since, and yes, there is still the satisfaction from knowing you have done a great job of making sure your patient/client has received the optimal care for their recovery.
    There are many different areas of case management - peds, OB, work comp, rehab, oncology, you name it; in many different settings (hospital, consulting firms, doctor's office, insurance companies , factory, clinics, etc.).
    Leave your options open, and don't be afraid to ask about nursing jobs that aren't the norm!
  12. by   mattsmom81
    WOW! ASK AND YE SHALL RECEIVE!

    You guys have blown me away with your posts...I'm going to reread them now and keep 'em to boost my spirits on a bad day!

    Huganurse, I smiled so big reading your post and am so happy for your hubby...work is a good thing and 'specially for a guy.

    Big bear hugs to you, PRN! I am praying for courage and strength , as well as more good days for all of us and for you in particular...

    I LOVE hearing about the nontraditional roles nurses can move into and how you all have learned to live with in your limitations....that's sure what this nurse needs to hear.....I would enjoy teaching, Ken, (thank you for your kind words) lack of the BSN thing holds me back...but maybe I can teach CNA's or??? with my RN diploma...you're right! Thanks!

    Las Vegas, I can relate to stress of watching others suffer...both patients and other nurses...I did charge type desk duties for 1 1/2 years after my MVA, hoping my injuries would heal (my hospital was pretty good to me...wanted to make me a supervisor even) but the stress/pain/depression got to me. I was SO troubled seeing my staff working in chronic short staff situations... watch them cry cuz they were doing as much as they could but it wasn't enough...TPTB wouldn't budge with my pleas for more staff....I just couldn't do it anymore...I wanted to jump in and help physically, tried, and couldn't.... soooo frustrating!!

    Yes, the depression/pain cycle can be overwhelming....I can see you guys understand.....I tried to apply for a PRN outpatient job but they never called me after the drug screen....even Prozac and Celebrex and Ultram put them off...LOL...hard to be rejected but ya know...I possibly could have gotten hurt worse in that job so it was for the best. I've gotten to the place where I'm going to try this surgery...stabilize my spine.... and 'move on'.

    Thanks again for all the support, everyone...you're all GREAT people I can tell! Write anytime just to vent, or visit! I am DWIL910@aol.com for emails if you prefer.

    Luv ya'll!

    Deb (Mattsmom)
  13. by   zumalong
    Mattsmom81: Hi again. I don't know about Texas, but here in NY I have been able to teach LPN's without a BSN. There are programs that will certify you to teach LPN's, but I did not go that route either.

    As I have posted before, I love to teach. I can keep my foot in the door a crack, and have been learning as I teach. I recently finished my BSN because I would like to teach at the RN level. (I will need my masters) I think us "injured" nurses make the best educators because we did not voluntarily leave the bedside (for the most part).

    The money issue is always a biggie. I would be making more money in acute care than teaching, but I would not have the w/e and eves. free. The one position I have (which is being cut due to budget constraints) is ideal because we are salaried. We are paid even during Chrismas and Easter break.

    Take care of yourself first. Get back to being as healthy and strong as possible. (like I'm one to talk--going back to my old floor with my hip) You know us nurses, never take our own advise.

    I'm thinking of you. Cheryl
  14. by   oramar
    Interesting thread I intend to follow it. Don't have anything to add but will think about it maybe later.

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