I have been on workers’ compensation for nearly three years due to a ruptured disc. After two surgeries, I am still having pain and my neurosurgeon told me this is the best I will ever be. A second opinion yielded the same conclusion. I am being treated by a pain management doctor. My restrictions include no lifting, pushing, pulling, no sitting or standing for longer than 20 minutes at a time and no bending or twisting.
I know I have a lot of years left in me to give to the nursing profession. I feel being a nurse educator is how I can contribute because I can comply with my restrictions in that capacity. I want to start an online master’s program, but I am leery to do so because it will require I do my clinical practicum in a classroom.
I am afraid to ask the workers’ comp rep about it because she may tell me I cannot do it or tell me if I can do all of that, then I should be able to work. Can I take online classes and student teach while on workers comp? Am I obligated to tell them I am taking classes?
I need to move forward with my life and career, but do not know what to do.
On Workers Comp
Dear Donna replies:
Dear On Workers Comp,
There are cases when certain types of education and training are considered rehabilitative and prepare one to return to the job market after being out on workers comp. But I dont know if what you propose would qualify. You would have to discuss this with your worker’s comp counselor. You certainly dont want to hide anything or do anything behind his back, which could get you in trouble on many levels.
I would suggest consulting a nurse attorney or workers’ compensation attorney who can guide you through the process and make sure your rights are protected. This way you’ll have all the facts about your options, have someone advocating for you, and be able to move forward while protecting your health and your benefits. You can find a nurse attorney who specializes in workers comp cases for nurses by asking around, getting a referral through your state chapter of the American Nurses Association (www.ana.org) whether or not you are a member, or through The American Association of Nurse Attorneys (www.taana.org).