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Nursing fields suited for physical limitations/chronic illness

Watki22 Watki22 (New) New Nurse

Hi there!

Im a new grad (kindof) RN BSN, just finished my first yr on a medical surgical/telemetry floor. Bedside nursing is getting harder and harder physically as I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome- connective tissue disease causing unstable joints and chronic pain. I’m worried I’m going to sustain a terrible injury if I keep working bedside nursing or if I suddenly get worse I won’t be able to work. I want to be able to work in nursing for many years but what I am doing now is not sustainable. I am interested in case management (office or telephonic or field) but it seems they are looking for nurses with at the least 3 yrs clinical experience AND they want CMM or case management experience. Does anyone have any advice on another nursing field I could go into? 🤔

LibraNurse27 specializes in Community Health, Med/Surg, ICU Stepdown.

I used to work in a community health clinic doing a mix of phone triage and walk-in patient triage as well as quick scheduled "nurse visits" like for injections, TB tests/reads, newborn weight/bili checks, INR checks and coumadin adjustments, etc... there was lots to do! I loved it but unfortunately the pay in community clinics is usually much lower than hospitals. What area do you live in? Where I live there are many clinics serving lower income/vulnerable patients like the one I used to work in and they are almost always looking for nurses! Public health might also be a good option.

NICU Guy specializes in NICU.

Were you diagnosed in the last year? It seems that if you had a potentially debilitating medical issue, you should have researched bedside nursing prior to starting nursing school to see if it was going to be too physically demanding for you before you went through the rigors of nursing school or at least recognized during nursing clinicals that nursing might not be the best career path for you.

I am not understanding why you would choose nursing if your goal was not bedside nursing. There are other pathways to Case Management other than nursing. There are also many other non-nursing career paths that are not physically demanding.

On ‎2‎/‎15‎/‎2019 at 3:46 PM, NICU Guy said:

Were you diagnosed in the last year? It seems that if you had a potentially debilitating medical issue, you should have researched bedside nursing prior to starting nursing school to see if it was going to be too physically demanding for you before you went through the rigors of nursing school or at least recognized during nursing clinicals that nursing might not be the best career path for you.

I am not understanding why you would choose nursing if your goal was not bedside nursing. There are other pathways to Case Management other than nursing. There are also many other non-nursing career paths that are not physically demanding.

That's so rude and I totally disagree. 1 - so many people go into nursing but do NOT want to be bedside nurses. Anyone going into primary health/public health or school nursing. That's a huge number of people not wanting to work bedside.
AND 2 - you can't research how demanding bedside nursing is omg... I can't believe I just read that. Where can you find information on how physically demanding a certain floor of a certain hospital is!!! How ridiculous! This person has a condition which will make her incredibly understanding of other people's pain and chronic illness and will be a fantastic nurse. Why are you so keen for her not to be in nursing. There are so many non-bedside nursing jobs out there which are so important.

Rant done.

Lindalamb8 specializes in LNA.

I am an LNA with not really any conditions. It's just that I am 64. I just interviewed for a position in a Nursing home but the faculty wants me to have a physical first. I am terrified as I think it might include having to lift 50 lbs. I had to do that one time as part of the pre employment physical and I couldn't do it so I didn't get that job. Do I have cause to be worried about this upcoming physical?

Ruby Vee specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching.

On 3/14/2019 at 1:26 AM, bananas1 said:

That's so rude and I totally disagree. 1 - so many people go into nursing but do NOT want to be bedside nurses. Anyone going into primary health/public health or school nursing. That's a huge number of people not wanting to work bedside.
AND 2 - you can't research how demanding bedside nursing is omg... I can't believe I just read that. Where can you find information on how physically demanding a certain floor of a certain hospital is!!! How ridiculous! This person has a condition which will make her incredibly understanding of other people's pain and chronic illness and will be a fantastic nurse. Why are you so keen for her not to be in nursing. There are so many non-bedside nursing jobs out there which are so important.

Rant done.

Rudeness is in the eye of the beholder, and I found your post more rude than the post you are quoting. I, too wonder about anyone with a chronic illness who goes into nursing knowing they cannot work at the bedside long enough to get useful experience that will carry over into other roles.

On ‎3‎/‎16‎/‎2019 at 10:49 AM, Ruby Vee said:

Rudeness is in the eye of the beholder, and I found your post more rude than the post you are quoting. I, too wonder about anyone with a chronic illness who goes into nursing knowing they cannot work at the bedside long enough to get useful experience that will carry over into other roles.

Trust me my post didn't come out as nearly as rude as I had intended. We're supposed to be nurses, encouraging and enabling people to achieve what they want. I know a med-surg nurse with anaphylactic reactions to latex, I know another nurse with severe anaphylaxis to friggen everything, both carry epipens on them. I know another nurse with type 1 diabetes who actually has a service dog sitting in the hallway for her because it is that unpredictable.

I have friends who absolutely hate bedside nursing, and went into public health or primary healthcare. I didn't get into bedside nursing at first either though I wanted to, I am now in NICU. You are never just stuck in one area, many skills are transferrable and I was certainly given this job out of keenness, nothing to do with experience

Edited by bananas1

3 minutes ago, bananas1 said:

We're supposed to be nurses, encouraging and enabling people to achieve what they want.

Ummmmm. I don’t recall that being part of any nursing code anywhere, that’s for mummies and daddies. I find it’s much better to encourage people to achieve what they reasonably can, not whatever cockamamie pipe-dream they have deluded themselves into believing. We had someone here once who was legally blind and wanted to be a nurse. This is not reasonable at all but sure enough someone piped up about forcing schools, clinical sites and hospitals to make accommodations for them because it was their dreeeaaammm. We do not do people favors by encouraging them to continue toward an unattainable goal.

To the OP, you may have to figure out a way to deal with your situation until such time that you’ve achieved enough experience to transfer into a CM job. Your facility may have an ADA office that can help you. But now that you have a year’s experience it may be easier for you to find a job with less (but not zero) physical stress such as pediatric home care or phone triage.

Ruby Vee specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching.

1 hour ago, bananas1 said:

We're supposed to be nurses, encouraging and enabling people to achieve what they want.

Really? I am a nurse and have been for many decades, but no where in any job description I have ever read does it say I'm responsible for "encouraging and enabling random strangers on the Internet to achieve what they want." Especially if what they want isn't reasonable, likely or even possible.

I consider it a boon to such individuals to point out the problems in their critical thinking so they can adjust their expectations or work hard on obtaining the qualifications they need.

TriciaJ specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

On 3/13/2019 at 11:26 PM, bananas1 said:

That's so rude and I totally disagree. 1 - so many people go into nursing but do NOT want to be bedside nurses. Anyone going into primary health/public health or school nursing. That's a huge number of people not wanting to work bedside.
AND 2 - you can't research how demanding bedside nursing is omg... I can't believe I just read that. Where can you find information on how physically demanding a certain floor of a certain hospital is!!! How ridiculous! This person has a condition which will make her incredibly understanding of other people's pain and chronic illness and will be a fantastic nurse. Why are you so keen for her not to be in nursing. There are so many non-bedside nursing jobs out there which are so important.

Rant done.

This website is open to the public and is an excellent place to start researching nursing as a possible career. It just seems to not be the best of planning to undertake the rigours of schooling for a career that might not be doable.

Now the OP is trying to find a way to salvage her career and it might not be easy. Yes, lots of people don't want to work bedside. But a significant number of us find that it takes a few years at the bedside to be able to get out of it. And the away-from-bedside jobs aren't necessarily a piece of cake, either.

Unfortunately, nursing requires a LOT more than being understanding of people's pain. Because the people in the beds can't be expected to be understanding of your pain.

There are occasional posts that pop up on this site: "I'm a new nurse but I don't want to work nights." "I'm a new nurse but I can't stand for long periods." "I'm a new nurse but I need every Sunday off because church is important to me." "I'm a new nurse and I think it's unfair that I have to work Christmas."

For those of us who have spent our adult lives on our feet, during the night, on weekends, holidays, etc - we can only shake our heads. Anyone whose dre-e-e-am it is to be a nurse - find out what's required before deciding if it's for you. It's not classified information.

Ruby Vee specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching.

38 minutes ago, TriciaJ said:

This website is open to the public and is an excellent place to start researching nursing as a possible career. It just seems to not be the best of planning to undertake the rigours of schooling for a career that might not be doable.

Now the OP is trying to find a way to salvage her career and it might not be easy. Yes, lots of people don't want to work bedside. But a significant number of us find that it takes a few years at the bedside to be able to get out of it. And the away-from-bedside jobs aren't necessarily a piece of cake, either.

Unfortunately, nursing requires a LOT more than being understanding of people's pain. Because the people in the beds can't be expected to be understanding of your pain.

There are occasional posts that pop up on this site: "I'm a new nurse but I don't want to work nights." "I'm a new nurse but I can't stand for long periods." "I'm a new nurse but I need every Sunday off because church is important to me." "I'm a new nurse and I think it's unfair that I have to work Christmas."

For those of us who have spent our adult lives on our feet, during the night, on weekends, holidays, etc - we can only shake our heads. Anyone whose dre-e-e-am it is to be a nurse - find out what's required before deciding if it's for you. It's not classified information.

My main problem with this post is that I can't like it a few thousand times.

My other problem is that I didn't say this myself.

NICU Guy specializes in NICU.

On 3/14/2019 at 2:26 AM, bananas1 said:

so many people go into nursing but do NOT want to be bedside nurses. Anyone going into primary health/public health or school nursing.

The OP went into a Med/Surg floor with the final goal of Case Management. My point is there are other avenues to Case Management (such as Social Work) other than spending 2-3 yrs on a Med/Surg floor. If the OP had said "I went into nursing to get into School Nursing because I love children and thought it would be the best area for my medical limitations, but after a year I realized that even that is too physically demanding" I would have been more understanding because they did their due diligence and felt that was most logical position for them as a new grad. I have compassion-for the older nurses that have worked for 20 yrs and need a non-physical nursing job due to the physical toll the job has put on them, not the new grad with know physical issues that didn't research if the profession was a good fit for their physical limitations and wants to go to the front of the line.

On 3/14/2019 at 2:26 AM, bananas1 said:

AND 2 - you can't research how demanding bedside nursing is omg... I can't believe I just read that. Where can you find information on how physically demanding a certain floor of a certain hospital is!!! How ridiculous!

That is total BS. They could have shadowed a nurse, talked with a clinical instructor at a local college, or asked a relative or neighbor that is a nurse how physically demanding nursing would be as a new grad and is their plan feasible? I graduated nursing school at 48 yrs old (ABSN program) without any physical problems. My initial goal was Adult ICU or OR. After the first ICU clinical day and moving obese adults in bed, I knew I couldn't do that for the next 15-20 yrs. OR clinical didn't fair much better. After a 2 hour hip replacement surgery wearing a 20-30 pound lead apron, my back and feet were killing me. NICU was the correct decision for me. The ICU environment without the back fatigue of the adult world. I didn't blindly graduate from nursing school and expect every thing to work out. If my true passion was Adult ICU or OR, then I would have had to get a personal trainer to strengthen my core muscles to decrease the potential damage to my back or I would end up like many older nurses with serious back issues that end up taking the same desk jobs that the OP want as a new nurse.

I developed lymphedema in both legs that made bedside nursing too painful. I became a school nurse and I love it. Good luck!

On ‎3‎/‎18‎/‎2019 at 4:51 AM, Wuzzie said:

Ummmmm. I don’t recall that being part of any nursing code anywhere, that’s for mummies and daddies. I find it’s much better to encourage people to achieve what they reasonably can, not whatever cockamamie pipe-dream they have deluded themselves into believing. We had someone here once who was legally blind and wanted to be a nurse. This is not reasonable at all but sure enough someone piped up about forcing schools, clinical sites and hospitals to make accommodations for them because it was their dreeeaaammm. We do not do people favors by encouraging them to continue toward an unattainable goal.

To the OP, you may have to figure out a way to deal with your situation until such time that you’ve achieved enough experience to transfer into a CM job. Your facility may have an ADA office that can help you. But now that you have a year’s experience it may be easier for you to find a job with less (but not zero) physical stress such as pediatric home care or phone triage.

On ‎3‎/‎18‎/‎2019 at 5:54 AM, Ruby Vee said:

Really? I am a nurse and have been for many decades, but no where in any job description I have ever read does it say I'm responsible for "encouraging and enabling random strangers on the Internet to achieve what they want." Especially if what they want isn't reasonable, likely or even possible.

I consider it a boon to such individuals to point out the problems in their critical thinking so they can adjust their expectations or work hard on obtaining the qualifications they need.

On ‎3‎/‎18‎/‎2019 at 5:56 AM, TriciaJ said:

This website is open to the public and is an excellent place to start researching nursing as a possible career. It just seems to not be the best of planning to undertake the rigours of schooling for a career that might not be doable.

Now the OP is trying to find a way to salvage her career and it might not be easy. Yes, lots of people don't want to work bedside. But a significant number of us find that it takes a few years at the bedside to be able to get out of it. And the away-from-bedside jobs aren't necessarily a piece of cake, either.

Unfortunately, nursing requires a LOT more than being understanding of people's pain. Because the people in the beds can't be expected to be understanding of your pain.

There are occasional posts that pop up on this site: "I'm a new nurse but I don't want to work nights." "I'm a new nurse but I can't stand for long periods." "I'm a new nurse but I need every Sunday off because church is important to me." "I'm a new nurse and I think it's unfair that I have to work Christmas."

For those of us who have spent our adult lives on our feet, during the night, on weekends, holidays, etc - we can only shake our heads. Anyone whose dre-e-e-am it is to be a nurse - find out what's required before deciding if it's for you. It's not classified information.

I am really shocked at these responses.. I have no other words. I absolutely disagree with you all.

4 hours ago, bananas1 said:

I absolutely disagree with you all.

And that is your right. Have a nice day.

TriciaJ specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

10 hours ago, bananas1 said:

I am really shocked at these responses.. I have no other words. I absolutely disagree with you all.

We can only speak from our own personal experience. The three of us have probably close to a century of nursing, combined. We know what nursing has required of us. We are now experiencing what it has done to us over the years. When someone asks "Can I still be a nurse if I have xyz disorder?" we can only try to imagine doing what we have to do while having xyz disorder. If it's just not imaginable we're not going to tell someone "Sure, go for it! Go ahead and put in all that effort and get in mountains of debt so you can crash and burn!"

If I asked you: "I'm 4'8" and weigh 80 lbs and have muscular dystrophy. But I've always dreeamed of working in heavy construction. Should I go for it? Oh, and by the way I'm afraid of heights" what would you tell me? Would you really tell me not to give up on my dream?

The everyone-gets-a-trophy-and-anyone-can-be-whatever-they-want generation no doubt finds us harsh. But reality is usually harsher.

Ruby Vee specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching.

14 hours ago, bananas1 said:

I am really shocked at these responses.. I have no other words. I absolutely disagree with you all.

Of course it is your right to disbelieve and disagree with informed opinions. I'm very sorry you won't benefit from the combined wisdom and solid advice of established nurses and AN members. But that, too is your right.

7 hours ago, TriciaJ said:

We can only speak from our own personal experience. The three of us have probably close to a century of nursing, combined. We know what nursing has required of us. We are now experiencing what it has done to us over the years. When someone asks "Can I still be a nurse if I have xyz disorder?" we can only try to imagine doing what we have to do while having xyz disorder. If it's just not imaginable we're not going to tell someone "Sure, go for it! Go ahead and put in all that effort and get in mountains of debt so you can crash and burn!"

If I asked you: "I'm 4'8" and weigh 80 lbs and have muscular dystrophy. But I've always dreeamed of working in heavy construction. Should I go for it? Oh, and by the way I'm afraid of heights" what would you tell me? Would you really tell me not to give up on my dream?

The everyone-gets-a-trophy-and-anyone-can-be-whatever-they-want generation no doubt finds us harsh. But reality is usually harsher.

I did not know I had this disorder when I started school for nursing. I slowly developed chronic pain and other symptoms throughout my education and was told it was likely fibromyalgia so I thought as long as I could push through the pain I would be fine. About 3 months into my first job is when I was diagnosed with my connective tissue disease and learned that all the manual labor I was doing was causing damage and I would gradually get worse. If I knew I had this earlier on I would not have gone into nursing. However I am like someone had said in an earlier post trying to “salvage” what I can of the career I am in debt for. I was just looking for advice on types of nursing that are easier physically as nursing is a HUGE field and there are so many options

TriciaJ specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

1 minute ago, Watki22 said:

I did not know I had this disorder when I started school for nursing. I slowly developed chronic pain and other symptoms throughout my education and was told it was likely fibromyalgia so I thought as long as I could push through the pain I would be fine. About 3 months into my first job is when I was diagnosed with my connective tissue disease and learned that all the manual labor I was doing was causing damage and I would gradually get worse. If I knew I had this earlier on I would not have gone into nursing. However I am like someone had said in an earlier post trying to “salvage” what I can of the career I am in debt for. I was just looking for advice on types of nursing that are easier physically as nursing is a HUGE field and there are so many options

Yes, I got that from your original post. It seems you got blindsided and I'm sorry that happened to you. We've been taken to task for not being "supportive" of people who have severe health issues and want to go into nursing anyway. As you have found out, it's really difficult when you have to work around a debilitating condition.

As for suggestions: school nursing or hospice shouldn't require as much standing as acute care. My last job was in college health and that entailed a lot more sitting than any of my previous positions. Of course, those might be a bit boring if you're a fairly new nurse and have gravitated to ED. But if what you're doing just isn't turning out to be doable, there are still options that don't require years of experience.

Good luck!

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