disability/becoming a nurse

  1. Hi,

    I wondered if anyone can direct me to the right place or if anyone has experiences with this. I am a nursing student (a little older) and became a CNA five years ago. My second year, I was working full time, and took a patient load (14) (or actually was assigned the patient load), one of the patients required a total transfer. I had little help, I was pressured for time, so I transferred the person myself (btk amputee). I saw a co-worker who was much older than I transfer, she did it with such ease, so I tried it myself. Well, I didn't use a gait belt, attempted to transfer from wheelchair to bed, as soon as I got him to the bed, had to transfer him back to the wheelchair to avoid the fall, because he was not secure on the bed (so with all my strength I had to transfer back to the wheelchair). I felt my back just crunch. So I kept a stoic response, but was in excruciating pain. I had to take off work a week later, and go to the ER, yes I waited a week, and suffered.

    Now all these years later, I did work as a CNA, but not much, now I am in nursing school. Needless to say, it costs money, I still have my CNA certification (active) and my employer (now, not the one I worked for when I hurt my back) can only keep me on staff as a CNA, nothing light duty.

    I wake up in pain most mornings, haven't been to the doctor yet (except for the ER visit). When I work as a CNA, the condition is exacerbated, needless to say, I can barely get up the next morning.

    Does anyone have experience with this? If I applied for disability being a nursing student, is that looked down upon? I only have floor experience. In my clinicals, we aren't doing heavy lifting, so nursing responsibilities are ok with me.

    Thanks for any responses.
    Last edit by fibroblast on Aug 15, '17
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    About fibroblast

    Joined: Jul '12; Posts: 450; Likes: 440


  3. by   cbccern
    Are you referring to applying for Social Security disability? I don't believe any school would frown upon it. Having applied for Social Security disability myself recently, it is not easy getting approved the first time (that is not to say that it is not possible). But the SSA may feel that if you are able to go to school, that you should be able to pursue gainful employment. You may be referring to applying for status at school as disabled, that is not difficult. My physician had to fill out some paperwork, and with that I get a longer time period in which to test since my reading speed is decreased due to visual impairment. Never give up hope, sometimes that is all we have!
  4. by   LovingLife123
    If you are wanting to apply for SSDI you will not get it going to school full time and having a job. Sitting in a classroom and attending clinicals shows you can work a job.

    Nursing as you know is a very physical job. Is it worth it to your back?
  5. by   fibroblast
    Quote from LovingLife123
    If you are wanting to apply for SSDI you will not get it going to school full time and having a job. Sitting in a classroom and attending clinicals shows you can work a job.

    Nursing as you know is a very physical job. Is it worth it to your back?
    What if the only job you have experience in is physical and your past non-CNA job is not readily available (lack of jobs). Truthfully, CNA is 10x more physical than a nurse. A nurse may lift a patient or two, but not hoards and hoards as a CNA does. Passing meds, and giving insulin are not physical.
    Last edit by fibroblast on Aug 23, '17
  6. by   caffeinatednurse

    1. Get the care you need for your back, pronto. It's difficult to make any life-altering decisions when you don't know what you're truly dealing with. Maybe this is something that can be fixed, and maybe it isn't. You don't know yet what you're facing.

    2. What about physical therapy? I know lots of CNAs and nurses who go to PT 2-3x a week. And while it may be time-consuming and something that they have to schedule around, it has allowed them to continue to do their jobs and stay in nursing. (I would not go to PT until you have a dx for your back, though.)

    3. The physical demands of nursing depend on the job, the unit you work on, and the facility you work for. I hate to say it, but it's true. My job at my last facility was very hard on my back, feet, arms, legs, you name it. This was partially because we were understaffed - we were lucky to have 1 CNA for a unit of 20 patients. This meant that I ended up transferring a lot of people by myself (because lifts were often missing, or in use elsewhere, and we all know those patients that just have to go to the BR right now). This all boiled down to admin just generally not giving a damn about their nurses, CNAs, or their backs.

    At my current job, I don't do that much lifting. I usually help transfer 1-2 patients from stretcher to stretcher. Occasionally there's a patient who thinks I can "give them a hand up" when it's just not possible, and it's totally acceptable to pause and get more help. We're generally better staffed, and admin is very pro-nursing and tries to keep good staffing ratios. So it really depends on where you are and what your job role is, as far as how physical your nursing job is.

    4. SSDI is likely not possible while you're in school for nursing. If you were studying something else, like English or history (something that is not in the least bit physically demanding) then you might stand a chance.

    5. Have you thought about alternative careers? I know it's not ideal, but if SSDI is not possible at this time, then a change in career paths may be necessary. What about areas like social work, counseling, psychology, etc.?