ICU RN in need of less physically demanding unit, PACU?

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    I have been working in the ICU since I was a new grad a little less than 2 years ago. I love it SO much, but I know that I physically cannot continue. I am on worker's comp right now for a back injury while pulling up a patient only a few weeks after a neck injury! Additionally, I have a rheumatologist trying to diagnose a possible autoimmune disease that has left me fatigued, lightheaded, with joint pain and numbness.

    I am considering applying to the PACU. Now, I am in no way saying PACU nurses have an "easy" job. I'm just looking for less turning every 2 hrs, cleaning incontinent patients up, getting OOB to chair, running from room to room, etc.

    I thought PACU would be a good transition. Any input or thoughts? I don't know much about the PACU.

    Thanks!

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  3. 18 Comments so far...

  4. 1
    I am an ICU RN, but work with a PACU RN who does PRN work on our unit. She loves the PACU and says it is much less physically demanding.
    CrufflerJJ likes this.
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    Thanks so much for that reply, family6. I was thrilled to read that. However, on another thread I just got a comment stating," PACU is similar to the ICU. While there is not necessarily turning every two hours....The PACU is literally a race against a time clock that is generally set at 45 minutes. We reposition patients, boost them up, help them get up, etc. PACU RNs also spend a lot of time on their feet. I spend more time on my feet in PACU and more time walking than I ever did working in the unit. Also, some PACUs require that RNs transport patients to their rooms...which includes transfers." So now I am confused! I'm sure there will be different opinions. Any other PACU or ICU RNs that can weigh in??
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    I am an ICU nurse wondering if PACU would be a better option, too! Wondering if it is in any way less stressful, too?
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    PACU nurses still pull up patients, help them up, and push beds, but not as much as ICU nurses. Since you like ICU, maybe you should consider NICU or PICU. Smaller patient size may be easier on your back.
  8. 0
    Quote from dah doh
    PACU nurses still pull up patients, help them up, and push beds, but not as much as ICU nurses. Since you like ICU, maybe you should consider NICU or PICU. Smaller patient size may be easier on your back.
    Thanks for the response! Hmm. Once my back heals, my hope is that I can still move patients but just will have a little break from the amount I've been doing in the unit... I was considering pediatrics, but I am having the hardest time finding hospitals willing to take RNs without peds experience. They seem to even prefer new grads to an experienced adult RN. The other thing, as I mentioned, some of my health issues cause me to have bad reactions to stress. Although I am not diagnosed right now, the Dr.s are telling me that working in less stressful environment will help keep my flare ups and symptoms down. So I'm not sure if the NICU or PICU would be a good idea even though the physical part is better. This is why I was thinking about PACU since I already have my ICU experience to fall back on...is pre op any better? I don't have experience in that but maybe someone would take a chance on me. Any other positions/units you'd suggest? Thanks again.

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  9. 0
    I left a step down unit to come to PACU and I find it much less physically demanding. Yes, I am standing more, but do a lot less pulling up, turning, etc. my lower back rarely aches now. I also find it is easier to get helpers in PACU than it was on step down.
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    A friend of mine left the ICU for NICU for the very same reason.. Major back issues.. She misses the unit but loves the lil pts.
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    Quote from dmh2007
    I left a step down unit to come to PACU and I find it much less physically demanding. Yes, I am standing more, but do a lot less pulling up, turning, etc. my lower back rarely aches now. I also find it is easier to get helpers in PACU than it was on step down.
    That's great and encouraging to hear! I'm okay with standing a lot, it's the lifting and pulling that gets my lower back (which is actually where my injury was). And the fact that there's no help! Maybe the PACU is the answer

    @sun0408...the NICU sounds amazing. Maybe when I get my health issues a little more squared away it'll be a possibility.

    Thanks for the replies. I appreciate any input!

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  12. 0
    Maybe it depends on where you are but I work in a busy 20 bed PACU and I do a lot of pulling up, turning, and pushing beds. We routinely have patients that weight upwards of 300 pounds. Just recently I was on call and had to push a bed, by myself because transport is not on call, with a man who weighed 322 pounds. Just keep in mind that many of your patients will be dead weight or barely able to help. I used to work med/surg and I find PACU has its moments where it is just as physical. If you are concerned about back/neck issues maybe you should look into pre-op or day surgery. Just a thought.


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