How Physically Demanding is Your Job

Posted
by Satori77 Satori77, ADN Member Nurse

Specializes in Med Surg/Ortho. Has 4 years experience.

And what unit do you work on? I am a prenursing student, leaving a very physically demanding job as a vet tech. A lot of bending, stooping, kneeling on the floor, wrestling with big dogs, lifting and carrying big dogs (either by myself or with help). And of course the occasional scratch or bite. My knees hurt a lot, and a decade ago I tore my trapezius muscle, which still hurts sometimes.

So one thing I worry about transitioning to nursing is how physical the job will be and the chances of getting hurt. I don't want to keep beating up my body. I'm almost 40 and am a small woman (5" about 105lbs). I'm not worried about the long shifts, being on my feet the whole time, or not getting breaks to eat or pee. I deal with that now no problem. And prefer to run around and be on my feet to sitting at a desk for 8 hours.

I just want to know what units are more demanding, more physical. I personally can't see myself doing ortho, but have an interest in NICU and the OR. And yes, I do know they are highly sought after fields. Likely I would have to work in other areas for a few years.

traumaRUs

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 30 years experience. 164 Articles; 21,134 Posts

Moved to prenursing for more answers.

welcome to AN!

Satori77

Satori77, ADN

Specializes in Med Surg/Ortho. Has 4 years experience. 516 Posts

Thanks. I've actually been on AN for about 8 years now. Hopefully working nurses will see this post, because prenursing students won't know how physically demanding a nursing job is. Or which units are more physically intense. That's why I posted in General Nursing.

RNsRWe, ASN, RN

4 Articles; 10,428 Posts

A lot of bending, stooping, kneeling on the floor, wrestling with big dogs, lifting and carrying big dogs (either by myself or with help). And of course the occasional scratch or bite. My knees hurt a lot, and a decade ago I tore my trapezius muscle, which still hurts sometimes.

LOL, if you replace the word "dogs" with "patients", you just described my med-surg floor experience! :D

There are avenues in nursing that of course are less physically demanding; you should expect to put enough time in on units that ARE physically demanding before you would be a qualified candidate for the "easier" (less-physical) jobs.

ALL acute care patient floors will involve a decent amount of physical movement, lifting, etc. And being on one unit doesn't mean you won't float to others (you will, without a doubt). I can't think of a way to get the kind of experience you would likely need for a less-physical job without going through one or more physical ones first.

And while it's easy for management to say "but we have Hoyer lifts, slide sheets, people to help with turning/positioning...."etc....the reality is that you WILL be hauling humans around to one degree or another. Weird exceptions are often the rule ;)

Good luck!

RNsRWe, ASN, RN

4 Articles; 10,428 Posts

Thanks. I've actually been on AN for about 8 years now. Hopefully working nurses will see this post, because prenursing students won't know how physically demanding a nursing job is. Or which units are more physically intense. That's why I posted in General Nursing.

Don't worry, we will :)

windsurfer8

windsurfer8, BSN, RN

Specializes in Prior military RN/current ICU RN.. Has 15 years experience. 1,287 Posts

May I ask why you picked nursing? Nutrsing is by far one of the most physically demanding jobs in the medical field. You work 12 hour shifts and you are on your feet majority of the time. You will be moving 300+ lb patients. You will be bending, lifting, and kneeling.

Have you considered another area to work in? I have a friend who got his bachelors in cytotechnology. He makes more money than me...works M-f and looks through microscopes.

If you do decide to stick with it I would consider where in the hospital you plan to work and look for an area less physically demanding.

NICUmiiki, DNP, NP

Specializes in Neonatal Nurse Practitioner. Has 7 years experience. 1,770 Posts

Working in the ER was very physically demanding. Everyone got their fair share of rolling, pulling, pushing, stooping, squatting, occasionally jogging, and standing in awkward positions under sterile drapes while holding heavy appendages.

In the NICU, eh. I walk a lot. Most of our patients are under 5 lbs. Occasionally, I push a piece of equipment, but they all have wheels, so that's not an issue. *Here's my obligatory warning... Jobs in NICUs are not all that easy to come across.*

Tex.

Tex.

Specializes in Critical Care. 232 Posts

I work in a LTACH ICU. Most of my patients are vented and sedated, and we do not have PCAs/CNAs in the unit. After 12 hours, I literally feel like I've been digging ditches all day. For every day I work, it takes me that many to recover. Work three days in a row? I'm in bed for three days after. I had no idea it was going to be this physically demanding.

Jerseygirl609

Jerseygirl609

79 Posts

Thanks. I've actually been on AN for about 8 years now. Hopefully working nurses will see this post, because prenursing students won't know how physically demanding a nursing job is. Or which units are more physically intense. That's why I posted in General Nursing.

Pre nursing student here and I work in a hospital and float to all the floors as a nursing assistant. I turn, pull, lift, assist ambulate patients all night long so I can give you my insight. The least physical unit in my hospital is the psych floor. Typically all of the patients can ambulate and bath themselves. Med surg and telemetry units here have heavy patient loads and a lot of complete care patients, at times they resemble a nursing home.

abbypoo

abbypoo

31 Posts

I am a nurse aid at a nursing home and it is pretty physically demanding. But thankfully, only a few of our residents are dead weight. You get better at it and I like that I get exercise at work.

By the way, I am only like 5 foot 2 and pretty thin and skinny. Getting stronger comes with time. You'll be okay.

Edit: I just noticed that you said you are a vet tech and already deal with heavy lifting and pulling. I think you should shadow a nurse for a day and judge how physical nursing is for yourself. I know that at the nursing home I work at the nurses do not do a lot of physical labor but it is probably a lot different at a hospital.

SopranoKris, MSN, RN, APRN

Specializes in ER & Critical Care. Has 7 years experience. 3,148 Posts

On any unit, you could have patients who cannot communicate with you. Just like with animals, you have to use their non-verbal & physical cues. You're going to have to use your muscles to reposition patients or assist them to a chair or the bathroom. Etc.

The best thing you can do is use proper body mechanics. Take advantage of the foot pedals on the bed to adjust it to a proper working height so you're not bending way over and hurting your back. Invest in a quality pair of supportive/comfortable shoes. Do exercises that strengthen the muscles you use for correct posture.

Good luck in nursing school :)

ETA: Many hospitals have a lift team for patients that are heavy. Call them if you are ever concerned about your physical safety. They can use mechanical lifts. Other facilities will certify you in how to properly use lifts. Depends on the policies at your institution.

RNsRWe, ASN, RN

4 Articles; 10,428 Posts

Lift team? Never heard of such a wonderful creature! Never came across one yet. Lucky you!