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I suffer from work-related back pain. What jobs should I pursue that will help me safeguard my health?

Friday December 14, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I am an RN with six years of experience in med/surg and two in a neurosurgical ICU setting. I have been suffering with work-related back and neck pains for years. I'm only in my late 20s but feel like I need to get away from the bedside to preserve my health. Do you have any suggestions on areas of nursing I can pursue, other than sitting at a desk, while still safeguarding my health?

Needs to Get Away From the Bedside

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Needs to Get Away From the Bedside,

Fortunately nursing offers many alternatives for nurses to make a positive difference in various settings and roles. If you want to stay in a direct patient care setting while safeguarding your health, consider occupational health, school nursing, public health nursing and other community-based/ambulatory care settings.

Although you state you don’t want to be behind a desk, you still might consider remote monitoring of ICU patients (eICU); telephone triage or advice line work for an insurance company or telephone triage company; working as a drug information specialist for a pharmaceutical company; or hospital case management, which allows you to interact with patients and staff without providing physical care. These types of positions require you to use all of your nursing knowledge and experience in a different way. At least do some informational interviewing (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Interviewing) with nurses working in these specialties to learn more about them. Many nurses have inaccurate preconceived notions of these and other specialties.

You would certainly benefit from attending a Career Alternatives for Nurses seminar to fully explore your options, indentify transferable skills and see yourself and your profession in a whole new light. See the schedule at http://www.nurse.com/events/ce-seminars/.

Attend nursing career fairs and professional nursing association meetings such as the American Nurses Association (www.ana.org) or the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nurses (www.aaacn.org) as a guest, if you’re not a member. Networking is known to be a great way to explore options and find a job. You never know where the spark, idea, information, contact or opportunity will come from, but you have to get yourself out there.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.