Injured My Back Lifting Patient

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    I have been an ICU RN for the past 5 years and hurt my back helping move an obese patient. I'm presently out on a work comp claim and unable to return to work due to my orthopedic surgeon placing a 10-pound lift restriction. My surgeon is also warning against my returning to bedside care.

    I received my ADN at the age of 50 and am now 56 years old. I am still paying $650 per month on my student loans and will continue to do so for at least another 6 years. For this reason, I've not pursued my BSN, as I don't want to acquire more debt.
    Prior to becoming an RN, I worked in the medical field as a surgery and authorization coordinator for a university hospital and have a strong administrative background. So, that's my history.

    Finally my questions to you. Is there a nursing profession that still involves patient contact/care (which I love), that won't require any lifting, and that would utilize my administrative background? Also, given my background, age, and circumstance would it be best for me to get my BSN or a certification for a specialty?

    I appreciate your advice and look forward to hearing from you. Thank you!




    Dear 10 lb Lifting Restriction,


    I'm so sorry about your back. It’s almost an epidemic in nursing.

    Getting your BSN would provide more job options for you, you just have to weigh the pros and cons in your situation.

    It partly depends on finances and how much longer you plan to work (earning enough to offset the cost).

    Usually, to earn a certification in a specialty requires a certain number of practicing hours in the specialty field as an exam qualification.

    Telephone triage comes to mind as there is no lifting requirement, and it doesn't necessarily require a BSN. You would still have patient contact. Case management also may be a good fit with your administrative background, but many positions require a BSN.


    Another option is Informatics, which doesn't provide patient contact, but can accommodate your lifting restriction.

    Be sure and read 8 Work From Home Jobs for more ideas.

    Best wishes,


    Nurse Beth



    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Sep 21
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  2. 5 Comments

  3. by   amoLucia
    There is always the option of looking OUTSIDE the hospital setting. Just a quick thought about LTC includes Staff Devel and/or MDS.

    Acquiring a BSN would most definitely add to a more stable,secure foundation when job searching.
  4. by   retiredmednurse
    Having worked the medical floor, I would not recommend LTC. There is still lifting to do with patients and think about the patient population-usually elderly, many bed and wheelchair transfers, and depending on the illness may have very limited ROM. I have worked with a few nurses who also had back troubles. In my old hospital, 75 pounds was what was expected for a med nurse to lift. The nurses I knew went into 2 different fields-psychiatric nursing and newborn nursery. I loved floating to either place-especially the well-baby nursery. It is so easy to lift a baby's hind legs with one hand to change a diaper. Best of luck to you.
  5. by   Code_VSA
    I am sorry for your injury. But happy that I saw there were other alternatives. In March I had spine surgery. Titanium screws rods and bone grafts. Just one. The L-5 and S-1 fused on their own. Horrendous pain and disability. Even now, I can vacuum but I then have to sit. The more I do, the more it will hurt later in the day and at bedtime. I was thinking there is no way I will be able to go back to Emergency Nursing. Just picking up my 10 lb cat and walking makes me short of breath and hurts. I hope you find another line of work that does not require any more lifting. And it's just not that, twisting, pushing, constantly bending over will all have a wear an tear on your back. I pray you never have to have surgery. My total abd. hysterectomy with a tummy tuck, and umbilical repair was a piece of cake compared to this. God Bless.
  6. by   OHNBJL
    I have a coworker who has cervical spine and carpal tunnel surgery. She could not return to bedside nursing. She found a position working for clinical trial doing interviewing of patients. It requires Nursing assessment and clinical skills. She sometimes starts IVs and does asses, during chemo treatments. She follows the patients through their treatments. It does not require lifting, but she does walk quite a bit. She loves her job. As an RN who just underwent 3 thoracic spinal fusions, I know all to well the pain of surgery. Do not return to bedside nursing and injure yourself further. Preserve your back. I don't know if I will be able to return to work. I'm still in therapy.
  7. by   Code_VSA
    I can't imagine three spinal fusions. God Bless you.

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