The average age of the largest group of working RNs right now is in the 40's, so you are going to be in the majority. I always found the decisions and judgments that had to be made the most challenging, but that's me.
I am completing a paper on zero lifting policies right now. It is the latest "rage" in healthcare. Too many nurses in the past have fallen by the side from permanent disability due to back injuries suffered while lifting patients, me included. And, the workman's comp system has failed them badly. Texas and Washington state have passed laws requiring hospitals to set up patient handling committees and obtain more patient lifting equipment. Massachusetts has a similar law before it's legislature. I believe New York and Ohio are also trying to pass similar laws. John Conyers introduced a bill to the U.S. house of representatives in September that would make this whole issue a federal law if the bill passes. I can give a link to information on a lift team in operation at one large mid-west hospital. Lifting and moving patients is probably the hardest physical thing there is to do on the job as a nurse. And, it seems that now that has become a HUGE issue. I have seen posts on the forums where young nursing school graduates were asking to find hospitals that had lift teams and zero lift policies to look to for their first nursing jobs. The country is getting educated to the fact that good body mechanics just isn't enough to save a nurses back anymore.
So, to get back to your question about what you are expected to do physically? Well, next to lifting and moving patients, probably the most challenging is being able to stand on your feet for 8 or 12 hours. My advice, after 30 years, is to wear good support hose and a good pair of orthopedic shoes that will be comfortable to stand in with arch supports you put in them to minimize the chance of getting plantar fasciitis. 44 is not old. If you're worried about stamina, sign up at a gym and start doing a regular daily workout.
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