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My back problems are limiting the type of nursing work I can do. Do you have any suggestions?


Dear Donna,

I’ve been an ER nurse for decades, obtaining every course and certification I could. I’ve done all I can to be the perfect example of an ER/trauma nurse. Earlier this year, months of back pain turned acute. My back’s just worn out. I can only lift a few pounds and have almost continuous pain. Following the algorhythm for treating back pain, surgery seems likely.

What do I do for work when I’m cleared to return? I will not be able to do bedside nursing nor any job requiring lifting or long periods of standing or walking.

At 57 it makes no sense to go for an advanced degree (I have a BS). I feel I have a lot to offer, but I need to find work quickly or become homeless because of lack of finances.


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Paul,

Fortunately, you have plenty of options. With your ED/critical care background, you’d be a good candidate to do remote monitoring of ICU patients also known as eICU. It’s becoming quite the “thing” these days.

You’d also be well qualified to do telephone triage either for an insurance company, private telehealth company, or a private practice (you can possibly even become self-employed). Telehealth is rapidly expanding and will likely take on an even greater role in years to come, especially with healthcare reform.

In addition to telephone triage, other options include telephone advice line nurse, disease manager, case manager, telephone health coach and more. These positions exist through the same types of employers as above and in hospitals as well.

This is only a sampling of what you could do. And while some of these positions might sound foreign to you and are certainly very different than what you have done, they would utilize all of your great experience and credentials and you’d be able to still make an enormous difference — just in a different setting and in a different way.

Start investigating some of these options now by surfing the Internet, searching for related articles at and talking to other nurses. Also, consider attending a future Career Alternatives for Nurses seminar to fully explore the vast array of options available. Find out more at Check back periodically for additional locations and dates.

Concentrate on getting well and know that you’ll have a place when you’re ready to return to work.

Sending prayers and good wishes,

By | 2010-05-13T00:00:00-04:00 May 13th, 2010|Categories: Blogs, Nursing careers and jobs|0 Comments

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