Is it possible to be a GOOD RN with a BAD KNEE?

Nurses General Nursing

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Hi Gang,

I am 33yo and, after the loss of a relative, have just begun a career change from a desk job into nursing (which is obviously not a desk job). I just began pre-clinicals for a 2nd degree BSN, eventually to be followed by a MSN. Before I get too far along in changing my career, I do have one worry...

IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE A GOOD RN WITH A BAD KNEE?

As a teen, I was struck by a drunk driver and suffered severe injuries to my knee, neck, back, and head. The knee has gotten *much* worse over the years (admittedly, because I played what the doc called "excessive sports" on an already bad knee from the car accident). Now, at only 33yo, the doc says I have a 70+ year-old knee. Gone are the days of it just aching with weather changes; now stairs hurt, it’s stiff to the point that I can barely bend it, and squatting is an enormous challenge.

I plan to eventually have knee replacement surgery, but am putting it off as long as absolutely possible since I've heard so many less than glowing reviews of having it done (and also the surgeon said I'd be out of work for 3 months recovering, initially in a wheelchair until I learn to walk again).

Whether or not I have knee surgery, I will always have some knee limitations and I'm afraid that may impact my ability to be an outstanding RN.

EXPERIENCED NURSES, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

Thanks in advance!

Kindly,

Dawn

lisamc1RN, LPN

943 Posts

Specializes in LTC/Behavioral/ Hospice.

I work with an awesome nurse who has 2 bad knees. :) She understands her limitations, asks for help from the STNAs for some of the physical lifting, etc, and makes sure she is very organized because she knows it may take her longer to complete some things (dressing changes, for ex) than other nurses. So, I would say yes, you can be an excellent nurse with a bad knee! Good luck in your studies!

jschut, BSN, RN

2,743 Posts

I work with an awesome nurse who has 2 bad knees. :) She understands her limitations, asks for help from the STNAs for some of the physical lifting, etc, and makes sure she is very organized because she knows it may take her longer to complete some things (dressing changes, for ex) than other nurses. So, I would say yes, you can be an excellent nurse with a bad knee! Good luck in your studies!

I agree with the above poster. I worked with one of the best nurses around, and she ended up having a bilat knee replacement. She's still the best nurse around, and I still would rather work with her than anyone with good knees... she gets the job done!

keithjones

198 Posts

remeber RN is a license not a job description. It would probably be difficult to be an exceptional bedside nurse without assistance, but there are tons of desk type nursing jobs to be had as well! You might have to struggle through 2-3 years of bedside to get there, but it is definitely doable! also joint replacement may not be a bad option if it hinders you that much. good luck to you!

netglow, ASN, RN

4,412 Posts

Well, to get your sense of control, I'd get a few other surgical opinions. And if you have some way you already know of to strengthen those muscles e.g. old PT sheets, I'd ask your PT/physician what you could do to prop-up all involved to get a little more mileage out of those parts.

Specializes in o.
remeber RN is a license not a job description. It would probably be difficult to be an exceptional bedside nurse without assistance, but there are tons of desk type nursing jobs to be had as well!

To everyone...

My sights are on cardiac surgery ICU since the median patient age is 65-75yo (I'd prefer to work with older patients where I'm fixing them & sending them back into the world :) ).

Based on the above post, aside from a nursing desk job, is there an area other than the CSICU where being an RN with a bum knee would be less of an obstacle?

Thank you again!

netglow, ASN, RN

4,412 Posts

Well, I can tell ya that the ICU population isn't that reliable as a population that you can expect to have high numbers to send back out to the world :cry:. Not that it doesn't happen, of course. Just not like you might be thinking it does.

Specializes in o.

Very good to know. Thank you.

allnurses Guide

NurseCard, ADN

2,847 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surge, Psych, LTC, Home Health.

I work nights on a pediatric psych unit. I mostly sit and do paperwork... chart audits, MAR audits, stuff charts, etc.. It isn't particularly the most rewarding job in the world and not a job I would particularly recommend to a new grad, but something like that would be an option maybe later on when your knee gets so bad that you simply can't handle an ICU job. It's fairly easy and low stress, physically and mentally.

diane227, LPN, RN

1,941 Posts

Specializes in Management, Emergency, Psych, Med Surg.

I have knee, hip and back pain but it is managed fairly well. Can you wear a brace on your knee?

allnurses Guide

ghillbert, MSN, NP

3,796 Posts

Specializes in CTICU.

ICU is probably a poor choice - with that and the floor, you wouldn't get to sit very often.

Why not get the replacement if it is this limiting for you?

Specializes in o.
I have knee, hip and back pain but it is managed fairly well. Can you wear a brace on your knee?

The surgeon said a brace would make the knee worse because it would push the kneecap in and create even more grinding between the knee cap and socket. Great idea though! I'm so glad to hear that you're managing your knee, hip, and back pain. :)

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