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Nursing with RA

ehamlin92 ehamlin92 (New) New

Hi there!

I am currently pursuing a nursing degree at my community college, and I’m about 1 class away from applying to the nursing program.

I was (very) recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and wanted to see if anyone else currently battles this while working as a full time nurse? I’m worried about how it will effect the quality of my work in the future, as it has been very hard on my hands at the current stage I’m in. I also wonder how the environment will effect me when I go on biologics and my immune system is lowered.

I know ultimately it is something I have to decide, however I would love some insight from anyone else in a similar situation!

VivaLasViejas specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

Hello, and welcome to Allnurses! So glad you're here!

I'd like to invite you to check out our Nurse Disabilities forum. There are many, many different conditions to read about, and I'm sure you'll find good information there on nurses working with RA. Just go to the forum and type "rheumatoid arthritis" in the Search feature. Or, you can post questions in the forum yourself. Either way, you should get some interesting perspectives on your condition and what it's like to work with it in the nursing field. Enjoy, and thank you for joining us. 🙂

kataraang specializes in critical care ICU.


I was just diagnosed with RA in March. I am a full time ICU nurse. I've been in practice about 2 years now. RA affects individuals very differently so it kind of depends. For me, I was wearing a boot on my ankle and needed PT (while still working full time). It was rough. I have the pain in my fingers too, but I am slowly finding what works for me. Don't let it discourage you from nursing! Not all nursing jobs are super physically demanding. You can find the right fit. RA tends to come in flares so you may feel good for a couple weeks, then like complete crap another week, until meds can stabilize. Message me if you need, good luck.

I was diagnosed with RA when I was 13. I am now 21 and recently earned my BSN and RN. Working with RA is challenging, but it is doable if you are passionate about your work, and I think it does have some benefits too!

My biggest issues with RA and FT nursing are knee and hip pain from standing and walking and tremors/shakiness that make it challenging to do some fine motor tasks. I just adjust my practice to accommodate these problems. I change shoes 6 hours into the shift which is an AMAZING trick. I try not to work more than 2-3 days in a row. I sit whenever I can. Even though I wish I could chart in the room like a good nurse, I choose to go to my station so I can sit. I like compression socks and invest in good shoes like the Danskos XP. As for shakiness I have learned ways to stabilize my hands and arms while I draw up meds, and I work at a hospital where there is a specialized IV team so I don't have to mess around with the really precise things.

The advantage of being a nurse with RA is the empathy you have for the struggles your patients are dealing with. You know what it's like to have to deal with something for your whole life. You understand the cost of medications and medical treatment. You know the fear, frustration, and pain. I think dealing with illness myself helps me support my patients better and I hope you will find a silver lining as well!

RNwithDoglet specializes in ER,Internal Medicine,Cardiology.

I am a nurse with psoriatic arthritis. I was dx'd 2 years ago. It has really impacted my life in a challenging way. Sometimes it is hard to use my hands for any task. Luckily I work for a quiet internal medicine office. I had done ER for many years. I am able to do my job effectively. Sometimes it is difficult due to pain in my joints, but I make it work. Taking breaks and using ice is helpful. I hope that your RA is manageable. My PsA has not been very manageable and I have not been able to get off Prednisone for the last 15 months. DinasaurRN is right about the empathy. I'm sure it has made me a better nurse.

I think the hardest part of this illness is staying mentally positive and not letting the chronic pain and physical limitations get me down.

Good luck!


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