My Scenario--Please give your opinion


Hello everyone,

My name is Vanessa and I have a dilemma. I am currently taking nursing prereqs and I am almost half way done. I would really love to become a nurse. Ever since I was little, I dreamed about being to able help people and truly make a difference. The only thing is I have a pre-existing back injury. From what I have read on the boards, I would describe it as a moderate injury, meaning I can walk and run but I won't be able to lift and transfer heavy loads. My mother is a RN and she tells me that there are plenty of non-lifting jobs or jobs that require little lifting, like pediatric, clinic, psychiatry, etc. Will I be able to get into these jobs right out of nursing school? And what about clinicals? Won't professors expect me to lift our patients? Any advice would be appreciated.

*brutal honesty is always a plus*



Specializes in Critical Care, Education. Has 35 years experience.

I am so sorry you have to deal with this additional stress, but I agree that it is very pertinent to your decision. Physical manipulation of patients is a fundamental part of nursing practice, so it is certainly included in nursing school curriculum. It would probably depend on your lifting limitations and whether the school could accomodate them. They may be unable to do so or they may insist that you wear a brace or other protection device (if appropriate) in the clinical setting.

Your clinical practicums would mirror whatever is happening in that organization. A lot of organizations are trying to adopt 'no lift' policies as part of their safety programs - in these facilities, you would be expected to use mechanical lifting devices at all times. As a new grad, you will undoubtedly begin in an adult med-surg environment. Transferring to another (less physical) environment may take some time.

I would advise you to think long and hard about entering a career in which you back is at huge risk... especially since you already have a pre-existing limitation which increases your vulnerability. There are other health care disciplines that are not as physical as nursing - have you explored any of these?

Jules A, MSN

8,863 Posts

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

I would think that it will be very difficult getting through school without lifting/transferring a patient. Your mother is correct in that there are fields that don't require much lifting once you get licensed. FWIW as a psych nurse I have to say we are very often "wrestling" psychotic patients so that probably wouldn't be suitable for someone with back problems.


1 Article; 3,037 Posts

Specializes in Medical.

I work in a no lift hospital - although we could always use more, we've got a lot of equipment to reduce manual handling. Despite this there's always some involved, from pulling slide sheets through to bending down to attach a hoist to soemone on the floor. What I'd be wary of is less the routine lifts and more the risk to your back from unpredictable patients - they're the ones that will potential turn a chronic minor problem into an acute major one.

That said, I work on a stroke/neurology unit and two nurses recently returned to work from neck and shouder surgery (respectively); they've been back for a couple of months and seem to be managing fine.