What kind of nurse can I be?

  1. 1
    I started out my nursing career in a nursing home and soon realized that was not where I wanted to be! After being charge nurse on a skilled unit and maximizing the learning potential, I realized the place i most wanted to be was in a hospital setting. I applied to a nearby hospital and several weeks later I was hired. I worked on the floor on a med-surg unit for a couple of years and loved it until I lost a very dear patient. That was when I decided to transfer to the emergency department where we could "treat em and street em". Did I mention that it was a children's hospital? Well, that little one that I lost was one patient that i had taken care of when I was still a student and was dear to me because she spent more time with us than at home with the little bit of family that she had. My transition to the ED was wonderful! I even made it to shift supervisor before I had an awful twist of fate. I was struck with a debilitating illness that put me out on disability for long term. The hospital's doctor told me that I would never be an emergency room nurse again. You can imagine how my world rocked. Well, it is several years later and I have been diagnosed with several things including RA, OA, RSD. I am still ever hopeful that I can do some kind of nursing and have recently returned to school to finish up my Bachelors degree. I am wondering what path I should go? I know I can't do much direct patient care but I still am a nurse! I would love to hear from my nursing community what their thoughts are...
    Susie2310 likes this.

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  2. 10 Comments...

  3. 2
    I have had many coworkers with osteoarthritis, it is very common. Often asymptomatic, too, and doesn't much impede their ability to work.

    The RA, is another matter, especially if it limits your use of your hands, i'd think. I am so sorry to hear of this.

    Does your RA limit your use of your hands? Visiting home to home, might not involve as much demand on your hands. (home health, comes in many forms, there is 'shift work' where you stay in one home for 8 to 12 hours,
    there is home to home supervisory or nursing care like dressing changes, hanging their TPN, etc,
    and there are also office jobs in home health, where you mostly sit at a desk)

    SOME shift work, especially in pediatric home cases, might offer cases where you won't need to be lifting that much weight, IF you do have safe and complete control of your hands,
    others peds patients, still do require some heavy lifting, or fine motor movements of your hands that might be beyond your ability.

    There might be some options in homecare that these might offer less demand on your hands.

    The RSD, if severe, could also impact your ability, especially if you have a limb that you can not move as much. Also, some private duty is available here and there, and might have some patients which don't require pulling, lifting, etc. Occasionally, here or there, there is private duty patient, with the bulk of the goal being more about companionship, safety-supervisory role, and not a lot of phyical demands on the caretaker there at all.

    I have a pal in California, who does flu clinics all the time. She is sitting, and there's limited use of her hands, just to draw up and give the flu shots. She is assigned to various drugs stores, fire depts, wherever she is sent. She lives in a big city.

    Various clinics and some doctor offices, might have less walking, less (if any) weight lifting involved.

    If you do have control of your hands, and can still walk easily, and if using your hands a lot, (even if not lifting, jsut moving them) is not beyond you, IV team is a kind of fun, imo. Almost no lifting whatsoever,
    but, obviously, you move your hands all day long, and tons of walking.

    Outpatient surgery, especially in the discharge areas, is mostly patient teaching and dressing changes, etc, not a lot of lifting or pulling, very fun work, imo. The pre-op areas, tend to involve more running about, but, little if any lifting, unless some immobile patient arrives.....but, come to think of it, they often do have to help put TED hose on, which is hard work.

    Recovery room, does involve some lifting, and walking, but, nothing like the hospital nurses face. It's much less lifting or running around, but, there IS some.

    Those are just some ideas that came to me, not knowing what exactly YOUR physical limitations are. BEST OF LUCK!!
    Last edit by somenurse on Dec 2, '12
    Susie2310 and lindykid like this.
  4. 1
    I was diagnosed with RA 13 months ago & have not had to change my work status. I do private duty Pediatric home care mainly with kids on vents. This is a pretty low stress environment which is good because, from what I've read, stress can lead to RA flares. I don't do any lifting. The 2 kids I care for are both ambulatory (yes, even on vents). The agency I work for has a strict policy against us lifting more than 40 pounds & the parents know the nurses will not lift a child who weighs more. I'm very lucky (so far) that my hands are not affected, except for occasional stiffness. This allows me to do everything I need to for my clients. My knees & ankles are what's affected but there is a lot of down time in private duty so I'm not on my feet for extended periods of time. There is no way I'd be able to do hospital nursing at this point because my legs couldn't handle it.
    Susie2310 likes this.
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    You could also consider telephone triage. Insurance companies "ask a nurse" lines. I would also check into the VNA. YOu might also check into some billing/medicare courses to get into chart auditing/case management. Unfortunately, the job market is tough right now.

    In too am an emergency nurse side lined by a debilitating illness. I have not found the medical community, or any community for that matter, very welcoming.......but I use an electric chair and can only walk a few feet with a walker. Employers shy away from me all together. The loss of something that is a part of our identity is difficult. I miss nursing so much....it hurts. BUt....such is life...their loss.

    So I hang out here and fulfill my "nursing needs".....Welcome to AN!
    lindykid, mrsmamabear2002, Genista, and 2 others like this.
  6. 0
    I was wondering if any of you have considered writing professionally i.e. for nursing journals, nursing professional organizations, CEU courses, web content, etc.
  7. 1
    I hope that you would be able to overcome your situation.
    lindykid likes this.
  8. 1
    Second telephone triage. I work in this setting now & find the coworkers with ED experience do well here. Good luck in your search!
    lindykid likes this.
  9. 0
    If you are finishing up your bachelor's would you consider going on to get a master's? You could do a master's in education and be an educator and teach undergrad students. There is also management as an option, I don't think all hospitals require a master's degree to be a manager, just a bachelor's. And then there are a lots of RN jobs that don't require tons of physical work, but also have less patient care. I also work at a children's hospital and we have nurses that work for ID, palliative care, cardiology and others where the jobs are educating families, coordinating care and things like that. I work with one nurse and a nurse practitioner with RA and they both are very involved in pt care and make it work. You just need to decide how you feel and what you want to do. There are definitely options!
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    Telephone triage, medical writing and consultant (with a peds focus), home health care, etc., may be your best bets. There is a lot of clerical work that needs a strong eye from nurses with experience, you could even look into informatics or case management. You're not done yet, and you have a lot of options!
    lindykid, mrsmamabear2002, and poppycat like this.
  11. 0
    I would love to do telephone triage, the problem is getting my foot in the door! Once you are out for awhile it is so hard to get back to where they will hire you again. I really don't know what the major malfunction is but it seems that you become some pariah of the community for some reason. I was an excellent nurse, at least my peers told me so and so did my evaluations. How do I get back seems to be the stumbling block. I decided going back to finish my degree would be the best start for the door to at least open. Thank you for all the advice so far and I welcome the support. I have nothing but love and admiration for you all!

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