Will this limit my nursing opportunities? (kind of long)

  1. I am starting a nursing program in August, and I have a few concerns. Before returning to school for nursing, I was a teacher. One day there was a huge fight between quite a few students, and it took seven of us to break up the fight. During the process, I was assaulted by a group of students for trying to help break up the fight. I was jumped on, kicked, and beat in the head by several students. As a result, I had several injuries to my head and back and ended up being on worker's comp for a year, going through physical therapy, etc. Prior to this, I had back pain that was manageable and didn't really influence my ability to do my job. For a year after this incident, however, my back pain was tremendous. After physical therapy and nursing all of my injuries, I now feel that I am able to get past this and carry on with school and work. However, we are required to have a physical for nursing school, and it specifically asks if we have had a history of back problems. I am really scared to put down that I have had back problems, but I want to be honest with them. I have already been accepted, so can this affect my being in the program? Also, I know that future employers will ask this same question and will also ask if you have ever filed for worker's comp. Will this prevent me from getting a nursing job? I would hate to get through school only to have doors closed in my face because I was forced to be on worker's comp for one year. It has been four years since this has happened. I did not return to teaching after that year because I did not want to teach any longer, so I have been a housewife since then. I have taken really good care of my back and my health during this time, and if I didn't feel like I was able to do this, I would do something else or stay at home, but I really do want to be a nurse and feel like I am capable of doing it. How will this influence school and future employment? Any advice?
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    About Heloisea3

    Joined: Sep '05; Posts: 285; Likes: 55

    14 Comments

  3. by   TazziRN
    I have never had a prospective employeer ask me if I've filed comp claims before. You need to admit to the back injury; what they will do is make sure you are physically capable of handling clinical. Whether or not you are declined will depend on how bad it is and what your doc says.
  4. by   fiestygirl
    Well, I don't think that this would affect you since/....it sounds like discrimination if someone does not hire you due to health problems. I will tell you that some (not all) nursing jobs ask if you can lift 15 lbs ..or some number like that...would that be a problem?
  5. by   Boston-RN
    If you have a current clean bill of health it should be no problem. With WC you should have either a clean bill or a disability %.

    I broke my arm 3 weeks before nursing school and had to have ORIF (surgery with pins and plates) (also a workers comp claim). Mostly they care that you are 100% now. Backs are a little tricky but with a clean bill of health there should be no problem.

    I have had an employer form ask if I filed a w/c claim. I answered yes and there was a place for % of disability if applicable and if I was cleared to work.
  6. by   barbyann
    I would think that your previous WC case and back injury might work against you in employment.

    I have been asked on applications "have you ever filed a WC complaint" "have you ever had chronic/acute back pain". "Can you lift 75lbs off the floor".

    I would think that if it came down to two applicants, and all else is equal, they would go with the applicant with no history of WC or back injury.

    Now, another factor will be how acute the nursing shortage is in your area. Around here (CT), there is not a lot of competition for each position.


    Good luck.
  7. by   Heloisea3
    Thank you for your responses. I have had nothing to do with worker's comp for the last 3 years. They did not give me a disability %, and I did not ask for one. Also, I have not been to one of their doctors for the last 3 years even though I think I could if I had to. With worker's comp, I quickly discovered that if you truly want to start feeling better, you have to take your health into your own hands, not put it into theirs because they don't care.

    Anyway, would I just need approval from the doctor at whichever clinic I go to for my physical? I can't bench press a few hundred pounds, but I do believe that I could do my job, using proper lifting techniques, etc. I saw somewhere on here that a nurse had to lift 100 pounds as part of a preemployment physical. Is that true? How many of you have had to do that? How does that fit into the no lifting policies at some work places?
  8. by   TazziRN
    Hospitals do not want you lifting 100 pounds by yourself. That's the size of a small adult, and there should be two or more people lifting that much.

    A note from your doc should take care of this.
  9. by   llg
    As others have suggested, if you have any limitations on the type or amount of physical work you can do, an employer can refuse to hire you if that limitation would hamper your ability to do the job. So, it really comes down to what your doctors will say when asked by a prospective employer's occupational health service. If you truly have a clean bill of health, then it will be unlikely to prevent you from being hired. But if the physicians say that you have some limitations, then there is a chance that you will not be hired.

    If the job requires lifting, etc., I believe it is legal to use that information in employment decisions. If the particular job does not require lifting, etc., then it should not be used against you.
  10. by   futurecnm
    Quote from dimwit
    I am starting a nursing program in August, and I have a few concerns. Before returning to school for nursing, I was a teacher. One day there was a huge fight between quite a few students, and it took seven of us to break up the fight. During the process, I was assaulted by a group of students for trying to help break up the fight. I was jumped on, kicked, and beat in the head by several students. As a result, I had several injuries to my head and back and ended up being on worker's comp for a year, going through physical therapy, etc. Prior to this, I had back pain that was manageable and didn't really influence my ability to do my job. For a year after this incident, however, my back pain was tremendous. After physical therapy and nursing all of my injuries, I now feel that I am able to get past this and carry on with school and work. However, we are required to have a physical for nursing school, and it specifically asks if we have had a history of back problems. I am really scared to put down that I have had back problems, but I want to be honest with them. I have already been accepted, so can this affect my being in the program? Also, I know that future employers will ask this same question and will also ask if you have ever filed for worker's comp. Will this prevent me from getting a nursing job? I would hate to get through school only to have doors closed in my face because I was forced to be on worker's comp for one year. It has been four years since this has happened. I did not return to teaching after that year because I did not want to teach any longer, so I have been a housewife since then. I have taken really good care of my back and my health during this time, and if I didn't feel like I was able to do this, I would do something else or stay at home, but I really do want to be a nurse and feel like I am capable of doing it. How will this influence school and future employment? Any advice?
    I don't know any of the legal stuff, but as a nursing student I can attest to the fact that it is hard on your back, I have learned to ask for help all the time to turn, lift, assist patients. I have a weak back, never injured but it gets pretty sore when I do a lot of lifting or moving of things. So, I do notice after clinicals that I have to take it easy. I think the key is to use proper lifting and ask for help. I can easily see where nurses would have back problems or back injuries. It is a pretty physical job.
  11. by   barbaratruth
    The issue is usually whether you have an open compensation case. I get the sense your case is closed.

    In nursing school, they teach proper body mechanics for the specific purpose of preventing back injuries. You will learn that asking for help in lifting/turning patients is a requirement for your safety and that of the patient. It's a team effort. If anything, I would say hand and arm strength along with proper balance (they teach you this) is what is needed.

    As far as future employers, I think unless you have a "permanent partial" or "full disability" to a body part essential to the job, it doesn't matter.

    When I had my physical for nursing school, they took my B/P, weight, blood for immunization titers and did a PPD. We had to fill out a short form about past medical history.

    If you're concerned, you can preemptively get your MD to prepare a letter stating you are capable of doing all activities required for the nursing program.

    Good luck.
  12. by   Heloisea3
    Thanks to all of you for your replies. Yes, my case is closed and has been for 3 years. I don't have any current limitations that have been set by a doctor. I believe that I can do the job. I have strengthened my back muscles to protect from future injury, and I always use proper lifting techniques if I have to lift anything, and I don't mind asking for help if I need to. Worker's comp did not give me any type of disability rating, and I did not ask them for one or want one from them. I only received medical care and part of my salary while I was recovering. I feel like I can do this. I'm not worried about whether or not I can do the job because I think I can. I'm just worried about whether the school or future employers will judge me based on a previous injury which required me to be on worker's comp. Thanks again for all your advice. I really appreciate all of your insight.
  13. by   locolorenzo22
    I work in ortho, and let me tell you...you better NOT be lifting hip/shoulder patients by yourself!....that's crazy to try to lift 100 lbs, all by yourself....
  14. by   NikkiRN_BSN
    Some employers may have you do a functional assessment prior to starting to work for them. I went through one and they do a much better assessment of your back then a regular physical. Plus they have you lifting, carrying, stretching. It takes a couple of hours and it hurts to get out of bed the next day. If you don't pass it then the job offer is void. One local hospital makes all clinical staff go through this and a regular physical. Pretty much if you can lift 50 pounds and bend you'd be fine since I know a girl that had back issues and surgeries that passed it.

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