Joanna is the type of nurse every hospital wants and needs. A dedicated individual who describes the vocation as a calling and not a career, Joanna has over 20 years’ experience in departments as diverse as pediatric, critical care, rehabilitation and even emergency care. With a true passion for her work and helping people, she was often awarded and recognized for her outstanding work ethic and the quality of care she provided. Joanna should be a nurse in high demand who gets to reap the rewards of a career steeped in excellence. Then why when asked what she does for a living is she forced to reply, “Until recently, I was a nurse,” with a pause and a sorrowful sigh?
Since multiple work-related back injuries have made it impossible for her to continue, Joanna is now a nurse in transition. In addition to her livelihood, these injuries have affected her ability to do housework, carry groceries and even play with her grandson. There are a staggering number like her.
In a recent focus group, of the nurses participating, nine out of 10 had experienced an injury, and only one had subsequently sought workman’s compensation about it. The others, like Joanna, just dealt with it – until it was no longer bearable to do so. For many – in this industry and even in day-to-day life across the country – we fear asking for help is a sign of weakness. Acquiring help does not make us “lesser than,” and, in fact, it usually brings greater success along with it.
Due to her situation, Joanna has a great deal of insight in the industry, suggesting that you shouldn’t skimp on resources when it comes to your body – especially the vulnerable areas like your back and wrist. Even in an emergency situation, be mindful, speak up and ask for help. Two of Joanna’s injuries occurred during two emergency situations where she needed to move a patient and did not receive the proper support she needed.
No matter the department and situation, be aware of your limits and use tools available to you. Before engaging in any action, take a deep breath and ask yourself what you need to do and how to do it safely for your body and in the very best interest of your patient. Utilize lifting devices or enlist additional nurses to give a hand. If additional staff is not available, this needs to be brought to the attention of your supervisor, who can re-evaluate the staffing situation so no one’s body is at risk.
Above all, be an advocate for your own well-being and for that of others. If we all work together, we can make our shifts safer, our rounds more efficient and our patients’ stays as peaceful and positive as they can be. Speak up when you need help. If we all take action, we can elicit real change.
If the above story sounds all too familiar to you, and you or someone you care about has been hurt on the job in a work related accident, be sure you know your rights and are covered; contact Kimberly Ruch-Alegant, attorney and President of Alegant Law, P.C. for a free consultation today. Kim is dedicated to representing people who have been injured at work or as a result of an accident and specializes in incidents experienced by health care professionals.