Dear Nurse Beth
I have back problems and work in the hospital. Can I still make a career out of this? I'm a nursing student but just got a job in the hospital as a cleaner. I clean beds, take out trash and I also clean the bins with all the needles and stuff, clean patients rooms. Can I do this with back issues is it very hard on the back?
Dear Bad Back,
Everyone is individual. It depends on your overall fitness, body mechanics, the extent of your issues, and even body type. You must learn to protect your back. Usually, a "planned" lift or move doesn't injure your back when you use good body mechanics and get help when you need it.
At the same time, nursing is very physical, and many activities are not planned. While it is recommended not to lift more than approximately 35 lbs., there is a cumulative effect to repeated activities.
Back issues don't necessarily automatically rule out nursing, but you must be careful. Only you can protect yourself. Look for organizations that use lift teams, if possible, or at least provide ergonomic training. Also consider that there are many career options in nursing, some much easier on the back than others.
Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job
"...and your next!