Working as a nurse is a rewarding and challenging career. Its rewards are obvious: You get to help patients be well and use your unique skill set to improve the health of your community. Its challenges are apparent, too: you must navigate complex situations, work long hours and cater to patients who are sometimes resistant. There are also physical challenges in nursing that are often overlooked.
Little attention is paid to the physical strain that nurses are often subjected to as part of their job. According to Healthcare Finance, this has motivated the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to develop new standards governing the treatment of nurse injuries. These are three reasons why such injuries are common.
Lack of training
When nurses enter the workforce, they have extensive education and training under their belt. RNs and LPNs both must go through the process of obtaining certification, taking classes and passing professional exams. Nearly all of a nurse’s training will focus on medical knowledge and best practices in health care. There is often a lack of training focused on preventing workplace injuries and lifting properly.
Many nurses are tasked with lifting patients in and out of beds. Even when there are multiple people assigned to this task, lifting that much weight from such a precarious position is a dangerous task to take on. It is a common requirement of a nurse’s job, though, and there are few alternatives available. Lifting patients can result in injuries such as sprains, strains and even more serious injuries, too.
In addition to the risk of injury associated with lifting patients, nurses are susceptible to injuries that result from repetitive motion as well. Any repetitive physical task can place undue strain on a muscle and make it prone to injury. Nurses often engage in such tasks throughout their work shift—including lifting repeatedly—and the continual exertions can cause injury.