Jump to content

Physical considerations for CNAs?

Hi there. I have been considering making a career change to the medical/health care field, and have been researching nursing and CNAs. I have a question for those of you with experience.

I have heard/read how being a CNA is very physically demanding. I am an almost 40-yr old female. I am not in terrible shape by any means, but I do have a 'sensitive' lower back that I have trouble with it getting strained/stiff fairly easily. A couple months ago I picked up my 6-yr old son who weighs around 60 lbs I would guess, and that strained my lower back so that it was stiff and sore for a week. Then a couple weeks ago, all I was doing was bending over slightly to get some folded laundry off the bed and my lower back felt like it snapped like a rubber band. So after that I was sore and stiff for about 4 days (which, I was surprised that it healed so quickly after that one because it HURT when it happened!).

Anyway, I just wanted some feedback from some of you in the trenches. I will probably also post this on a nursing forum because I know RNs also do physical work, just not as much typically as a CNA. (no offense intended at all, just that seems to be the way it is). Should I look into other non-clinical areas of health care since I have some concerns about my back? I wouldn't want to spend time and money training for a career that I would have trouble physically performing. Thanks!

Honestly, you'll probably be happier. I'm in clinicals and while we're in a "no lift" facility, there still are strains on the body. While we don't lift, we bend, we kneel, ect to care for patients. You might try something like a medical office degree. Good luck :)

In nursing you will have to lift some, even just to help a patient stand, you sometimes have to bear a considerable amount of weight. I'd be VERY careful trying to do CNA/nursing work with your back. Maybe you could look into a clinical secretary position or something.

TiggerBelly

Specializes in ALF, Medical, ER.

CNA work is physically demanding. I too work in a facility where they have a "no lift" policy in place, but still just walking/jogging around on a very hard floor all day long is enough to put a strain on your back. Even if you don't "lift" patients, you will still have to transport them in their beds which can strain your back, pulling them up in back, transporting from bed to chair to commode etc etc. I'm not trying to discourage you, by all means if you want it, go for it. I'm just trying to paint you a honest picture of what a typical day might hold for you. Alternative jobs in the healthcare field may be transcriptioning, secretary, billing things like that.

I've only been working as a CNA for a couple months and I'm 40 too. But for me, the physical part is much less than what I've been used to in the rest of my life. I've always done outside work with horses and large animals. So I personally haven't found it as demanding as I was expecting, which is good. What makes me tired is the mental stuff, it's totally different than anything I've done and I have to be totally concentrating all day.

Also while technically a 'no lift' facility, it isn't that way in practice. Most of the existing CNA's just say they are doing it, close the door and carry on the old way. Management appears not to know this but I don't know how they can't see it. So it's a little dilema when I ask someone to help me with a hoyer (supposed to be a two person operation for safety) and they just say go do it.

But for you, if you have a truely no lift facility, you should be ok. There is some amount of rolling and moving of residents in the beds, changing, dressing and whatnot. But if you're careful, it should be ok.

rancelumsden

Specializes in CNA.

Difficult to diagnose 'from afar', but as another respondent stated, it's the conglomeration of things all day. You'll essentially be on your feet 8 hours a day and even if not doing heavy lifting, constantly bending over to assist people, make beds, pick up items depending on what kind of facility you're working in.

On the other hand, if you want paid exercise.........:icon_roll

fuzzywuzzy, CNA

Specializes in LTC.

I've had a tiny little spot on my lower back, just above my butt crack, that's been bothering me off and on for years, but since I started CNA work it's been bothering me a lot less, probably because my back has gotten stronger.

CNA classes will teach you about body mechanics and give you the impression that if you always remember to use them, you'll never get injured. But try bending your knees in a small room crammed with a bed, chair, wheelchair, commode, and O2 concentrator! Or keeping your back straight when a 200-lb man suddenly decides to fling himself down during a transfer. Or not twisting at the waist when a combative resident is trying to claw your eyes out... it doesn't always happen. lol.

I've had a tiny little spot on my lower back, just above my butt crack, that's been bothering me off and on for years, but since I started CNA work it's been bothering me a lot less, probably because my back has gotten stronger.

CNA classes will teach you about body mechanics and give you the impression that if you always remember to use them, you'll never get injured. But try bending your knees in a small room crammed with a bed, chair, wheelchair, commode, and O2 concentrator! Or keeping your back straight when a 200-lb man suddenly decides to fling himself down during a transfer. Or not twisting at the waist when a combative resident is trying to claw your eyes out... it doesn't always happen. lol.

Well said! Thats the real world stuff that no body talks about until after you've paid your money for the class. Another thing I've noticed is how tense I am even in a no lift facility because at least once I'll get yelled at, cursed and threatened by a patient. Trying to stay calm when someone is throwing a fist at you and endangering themself is not easy. And then you get to go back a bit later and deal with them again, and again, and again. And some you never know what you'll get nice and happy or out for blood or both in the span of one procedure. This job is not for the weak!

I have been a CNA for 17 years and I do not do any lifting or transfers at all. I am 39 years old and have a bulging disc in my neck so I would never attempt to lift someone. I work for three home care agencies. I only take clients who have dementia. They are physically able to get around and help with personal care but mentally they need my assistance and guidance. You may want to consider an alzheimers unit if you want to work in a facility or just do home care. The three agencies combined that I work for guarentee that I am not usually out of work more than a week and it pays a lot better than facilities pay. I made $17.50 an hour careing for a husband and wife in their home and they were both ambulatory and able to do self care but the wife had dementia and the husband was very old and needed someone with him. Plus he had a catheter. You will do fine if you stick to your guns when it comes to your limitations. There is work out there for you. April

fuzzywuzzy, CNA

Specializes in LTC.

Oh and I don't know about anyone else but I can't wear shorts anymore. My thighs are always covered in bruises from banging around with wheelchairs and commodes and whatever else.

Oh and I don't know about anyone else but I can't wear shorts anymore. My thighs are always covered in bruises from banging around with wheelchairs and commodes and whatever else.

I always run into doorknobs/handles and end up with bruised hips.

But my biggest thing is, I always end up running over my toes with anything on wheels - wheelchairs, tables, med carts, meal carts...I bruise my toenails and then I can't wear flip flops, either!

My son is a plumbers apprentice. He is strong but anytime he has to lift or move anything the guys all get together and help out. He has never gotten bruised or banged up at work because he uses safety equipment and the guys all help eachother. Nobody wants to hurt their backs because then their goes their health and their ability to work comfortably. So why is it that CNAs and some nurses too, knock themselves out for such a measly paying job? I saw on this board that some CNAs make only $10 an hour. I dont understand why anyone would tolerate such deplorable work situations. !6 patients to one aid? I would never do that and I have been a CNA for 17 years. I would never let anyone treat me that way or put my health in jepordy like that. It sounds like a lot of job stress. I dont know. I worked in a convalescent home for a few months when I was a new CNA and I thought it was horrible. Even in home care at times I get sent to a home where a patient needs a transfer and they weigh more than I do. No way would I attempt it. They arent worth hurting my back over. The family should pay for two aids to come in and do the transfer if they want me to do that. They wont attempt it themselves, why should I. Do they think CNAs are stupid? I have never lacked work. I just refuse to be treated like a mule. I read on here how awful CNA work is and I just wonder why you girls let people treat you that way. What would make you take a job like that? You only get one body and if you let others abuse it and you dont take care of yourself then you dont get a replacement. I think if CNAs stopped letting facilities treat them that way then things would definately change. They would have to or else there would be noone to do patient care for these rich owners of health care facilities. Imagine if all cnas went on strike? Things would change super fast!!! 6 patients per aid. period. Or forget it. If you let people treat you poorly you will always be treated poorly. I just feel bad for the aids who work their butts off for $10 an hour. You cant even make a decent living on that yet you risk your health every day. I wouldnt do it. Why do you? Just wondering. April

I think you make some valid points about standing up for yourself ect. I think like all things, the education requires has got to change. Right now its a short program and then quick certification.

The way most jobs work you get respect from the employer by how much ie education you put in to get there. Cna programs are compared to almost all others quick and with little effort. Because they're so quick there are also tons of graduates every year. One won't stay, give it a week they'll be a new graduate in the application room.

Without higher education its tough in this country to get money or respect. I know its tough but even one class at a time will be so worth it. Until the field changes to a two year degree or at least couple semester certificate (which is on the horizon esp in this economy) things will sadly stay the same for cnas, in my op.

I've lived a long time without higher education, it stinks. Tell someone your working towards any degree they treat you better then someone who isn't or doesn't have a degree. Sad but its the way it is. Trust me life is better in school. (don't screw up like I did, lol)

Hi CSAB -- I'm a 51-yr-old who obtained my license last month and am working in a nursing home. I have had lower back problems all my life but decided to try to see if I could do this. Like one of the previous posters, for some reason, I've found that my back does not bother me at all now -- perhaps muscles have built up or something. Anyway, as long as you're careful, I say go for it!!! I really enjoy working with the residents. Of course, it does make a difference that I work the night shift -- but still doing rounds every 2 hours, you have to roll patients, etc, and I've had no problems. Hope this helps.

.....

Edited by jb2u
Seeking medical advice is not allowed per TOS.

I think you make some valid points about standing up for yourself ect. I think like all things, the education requires has got to change. Right now its a short program and then quick certification.

The way most jobs work you get respect from the employer by how much ie education you put in to get there. Cna programs are compared to almost all others quick and with little effort. Because they're so quick there are also tons of graduates every year. One won't stay, give it a week they'll be a new graduate in the application room.

Without higher education its tough in this country to get money or respect. I know its tough but even one class at a time will be so worth it. Until the field changes to a two year degree or at least couple semester certificate (which is on the horizon esp in this economy) things will sadly stay the same for cnas, in my op.

I've lived a long time without higher education, it stinks. Tell someone your working towards any degree they treat you better then someone who isn't or doesn't have a degree. Sad but its the way it is. Trust me life is better in school. (don't screw up like I did, lol)

As for higher education... I have a master's degree in social work. After going back to school, scraping, sacrificing, overcoming obstacles, etc., I sent out over 60 applications without one interview; virtually everyone in my class except those who were retained by their internships had the same experience. My internship location laid off over 1/3rd of their work force the last week of the internship, so there was no chance of my being kept. That's why I went through CNA training. Yes, I wish it were a bit longer too, but I am basically guaranteed a job (as long as I'm not picky about its being in a hospital!) By this point, I have learned to appreciate that. I am highly educated, but that fact is doing little to alleviate the bitter disappointment right now.

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
×

By using the site you agree to our Privacy, Cookies, and Terms of Service Policies.

OK