Returning to ICU after a Back injury?

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    HI, I was hoping I can find some advice for returning to work after a severe back injury at work. I am an ICU RN however I have been oow for over 1 1/2 years. I really want to return to ICU but I don't know if I can. Any advice? What areas should I look into if ICU won't work out for me?
    I would especially like advice from nurses who have experienced an injury...
    Thanks

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  2. 9 Comments...

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    Quote from catfish rn
    hi, i was hoping i can find some advice for returning to work after a severe back injury at work. i am an icu rn however i have been oow for over 1 1/2 years. i really want to return to icu but i don't know if i can. any advice? what areas should i look into if icu won't work out for me?
    i would especially like advice from nurses who have experienced an injury...
    thanks
    my sympathy to you! i have been there and done that too!avoid sicu,micu, and ccu of course.......you dont have to leave critical care if thats what you enjoy. think about ped icu or nicu. you can still utilize those excellent skills ....and not be bored out of your mind too.it will be a less stressful environment on your back too. take care...hope this helps....other options might be dialysis out patient centers.again it doesnt have to be "boring"
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    After my laminectomy I went first to long term care, then telephonic nursing advice, and finally to medical coding. You are probably not going to know how you are going to tolerate being on your feet for hours and hours until you actually do it. For me, it took about 6 months after I returned to work before things started going wrong--again. I now get some awesome neuropathic pain down my left leg. I went to long term care where I was able to sit more. I sat to do vital signs and treatments. I used the med cart as a kind of platform walker to help decrease the pressure on my back. The DON was a good sort and allowed me more and more to work on care plans and other paperwork things and I was going to move into the MDS prosition except I found a job on a telephone nursing line. It was totally a desk job and was great. For my back problems, my pain is almost totally relieved by sitting because it puts a natural traction on my lower spine when I lean slightly forward. That relieves my pain. I had started training all along for medical coding anyway, so when I was able to get a job doing that, that was where I went to. I have a background in accounting which I did before going to nursing school. It pays less than nursing, but it, too, is a desk job. Because I worked for a large group of ER physicians I was able to read their dictations and pull out procedures to code and bill because of my nursing background. I know of one ER physician group here in California who uses RNs exclusively for their coding and billing. I am currently studying Health Information Management which is a step up from coding and billing. I love working on the computer and generating all the reports! With a BSN and a little bit of a background in either coding or health information management you can work in utilitzation review which is pretty much second guessing Medicare, Medicaid and the insurance companies in order to assure that facility is going to get it's payment for the services it provides to patients.
  5. 0
    Quote from Catfish RN
    HI, I was hoping I can find some advice for returning to work after a severe back injury at work. I am an ICU RN however I have been oow for over 1 1/2 years. I really want to return to ICU but I don't know if I can. Any advice? What areas should I look into if ICU won't work out for me?
    I would especially like advice from nurses who have experienced an injury...
    Thanks
    Advice depends on the location and extent of your injury, and/or surgery. Plus the restrictions your physician has given you. Generally, ICU is not recommended if you have undergone surgery. Until I herniated a disc, in 1989, I worked off and on in ICU following three back injuries. Each one left me with more and more residuals.

    Grannynurse
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    Oh thank you all for your responces. I herniated 3 discs in my lower back and 2 in my cervical neck. I did this at work. But last week I was rear ended in my car just in case my back and neck weren't messed up enough.
    I have not had surgery and do not plan on it unless or until I can no longer walk or stand the pain. It scares me tremendously. Maybe artificial discs would be an option for me someday. Work .. I want to return to ICU but I don't think that I can nor would they allow me if I am not 100%.
    So I appreciate all of the responses with your experiences. I feel so alone!
    Thank you keep them coming :spin:
  7. 0
    Quote from Catfish RN
    Oh thank you all for your responces. I herniated 3 discs in my lower back and 2 in my cervical neck. I did this at work. But last week I was rear ended in my car just in case my back and neck weren't messed up enough.
    I have not had surgery and do not plan on it unless or until I can no longer walk or stand the pain. It scares me tremendously. Maybe artificial discs would be an option for me someday. Work .. I want to return to ICU but I don't think that I can nor would they allow me if I am not 100%.
    So I appreciate all of the responses with your experiences. I feel so alone!
    Thank you keep them coming :spin:
    Not only is your employer unlikely to allow you back but as a former rehab nurse, I would strongly advise against any attempt given your injuries. You are risking too much.

    Grannynurse
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    PACU is a nice option for people wanting critical care without all the lifting, turning pts. etc.
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    After two courses of epidural injections I started seeing a chiropractor, not really sure that was a good thing to do. However, the epidurals weren't really giving pain relief any longer than the steroid they were injecting was lasting in my system. I think I chose a good chiropractor. He teaches constantly, advises that every surgery to the bones of the spine only weakens them further, and sent me to an exercise specialist who concentrates on strengthening the muscles in my back. What a difference it has made!

    I still, however, watch what is happening with surgery. There are new techniques for ruptured disks where they can elevate and separate the disks and insert a biological material that recreates the shape of the disk. I don't hear of it being done all that much, but for those of us with ruptured disks it sure sounds promising.
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    NICU is always an option, very easy on the body. We have several nurses who have doctor notes saying that they can't care for babies over 10 pounds, and that helps even more. You can usually get someone else to move equiptment and beds for you. The worst thing might be the busy days when you're either running constantly or standing at the bedside of a really sick baby for your whole shift.

    I worked as a CNA in med-surg for a year during nursing school. I almost really hurt my back so many times, and I'd come home from work sore everyday. I've been in the NICU for almost eight years now and I've never once had an issue with my back and the only thing that hurts is my feet sometimes after a busy shift.
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    Dear Catfish, I am sorry to hear about your injury. I injured myself at work 3 years ago. After going to numerous doctors, having numerous injections, procedures, etc I am finally feeling some relief. It takes a very long time to recover (you never fully do in most cases). I have scoliosis which accelerated the degenerative process. I have disk dessication, multiple bulging disks, facet arthritis; a couple of disks are on root nerves, spondylosis, retrolisthesis, schmorl's nodes with reactive marrow edema, and end plate changes etc, etc, etc. I am not a good candidate for fusion because the top curve is large, so the surgeon said fusing the lower spine would create more problems in the upper spine. I finally got nerves burned on both sides of my lower back. The hospital said they couldn't find my original incident report (and I didn't get a copy) so the whole thing was very messed up! After working (cardiac stepdown) with an intermittent FMLA (and constant back pain), I finally took some solid time off (through FMLA) which turned into 6 months at which time I was terminated. I went on unemployment and started looking for work (was still receiving treatments and on pain meds at the time). I have probably made 100 applications and been on 25 interviews in the last 2 months alone. My unemployment ran out 3 months ago. I have no real income and still no job. I would suggest looking into case management, disease management or telephonic triage or health coach jobs- these are the only jobs that really require no bending, lifting, twisting. At first I went for jobs like "staff development" or educator positions that were in long term care facilities. What I found is that ANY RN position in a LTC requires you to be on call as an RN and you may even have to work as an aide if needed. Of course I could not do this. I looked for case management jobs but many require you to already have experience doing case management before they will hire you. I have heard that many people just got lucky and got case manager jobs right off the bat without experience. I guess you have to be in right place at right time. I did get an offer for a part time weekend case manager at a hospital and was ecstatic. I went in for my physical and drug screen- I was still on an opiate medication. I wasn't sure how long it would stay in my system, so, although I was planning on weaning down and off the meds , I didn't have time to do that before going to the physical. I told them of the medication, brought the bottle, to verify that I had a prescription, and peed. Even though this job had absolutely no hands on patient care contact duties, and even though I had a legitimate reason for the meds, and even though my doc sent extensive records relating to my back problems and also his support of my working and my ability to do the job, and even though my doctor took me off the meds the very next week, they rescinded the job offer. I was devastated. Not only did I not get the job (after I had accepted their offer), the employee health charge nurse absolutely treated my like some drug addict straight off a street corner!!! There is definitely major stereotyping and pre judgement out there when it comes to these meds. She said they did not hire anyone who had a controlled substance in their urine regardless of if they had a RX or not. I don't know but this seems illegal, this would mean anyone being treated for chronic pain (opiates), anxiety or PTSD (benzos), ADD/ADHD (stimulants) would not be hired based on the legitimately prescribed meds they are taking. I could understand if I was giving direct hands on care to patients, but this was not the case. Well anyway, I thought I would warn you of this. Back to the jobs, I would look on careerbuilder.com or monster.com for case manager, nurse educator, MDS nurse, insurance company nurse, utilization review nurse, utilization management etc. I think it did help me to get that job offer that I had enrolled in an online case management course with the University of Southern Indiana. Even though I didn't have CM experience, being able to say that I was currently studying it helped, it also helped me know more what these positions do. Also, when you go to an interview (or even before interviewing, ask on the phone) ask for a job description sheet. That will tell you the exact (physical) requirements of a job and save you some time. If you are any good with computers, there are jobs out there for nurses to give clinical input to computer/software people to help create and implement healthcare computer systems. There's also medical equipment companies that need nurses to be clinical liasons for their products (they go to hospitals and drs offices and give information and inservices to staff on healthcare products). If you think you like sales- the drug companies hire nurses as drug reps. I recently went on an interview for a cardiologists rounding nurse (for hospital rounding)- no directs hands on work there. Sorry I wrote a book here, the last year has been the worst in my entire life. Good luck and take care of yourself!
    TK


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