The Physical Dangers of Being a Registered Nurse

After years of education and training, you have finally been awarded the title of Registered Nurse (RN). While there are many great attributes to being an RN, there are also some environmental hazards for nurses that you should be aware of. More specifically, the physical dangers of being a registered nurse include:

  • Back Injuries: Back injuries are one of the most common physical dangers for RN’s. Research has suggested that as many as 40,000 U.S. nurses report back injuries every year. Back injuries are most commonly associated with lifting patients, carrying equipment, and performing repetitive movements.
  • Infectious Diseases: RN’s are exposed to patients with all sorts of ailments. In hospitals, especially, infectious diseases are a significant hazard. The physical dangers of infectious diseases can be ongoing, as diseases like Hepatitis B or C, or HIV can have a long-term impact on your health.
  • Toxic Substances: RN’s are required to utilize a variety of substances that could be toxic. Anesthetics, gases, chemicals, and some medication agents, if not properly handled, could be toxic or deadly. There is also the risk of side effects like chemical burns, contact dermatitis, and occupational asthma.
  • Radiation: RN’s often work in specialty units like radiology, where they perform X-rays, MRI’s and other tests. In these environments, radiation exposure is a real danger. Exposure to radiation can cause side effects that impact bone and skin health, can increase the risk of miscarriage, and can lead to some types of cancer.
  • Violence: Sometimes people who need medical attention aren’t in the best frame of mind. Other times, they are accompanied by a police escort before being taken to jail. Nurses must treat these patients just as they would any other. Unfortunately, sometimes patients become violent, which can lead to nurses being injured.

Like any occupation, RN’s must face environmental hazards. Many of these hazards can be managed with proper training, safety gear, and following protocols.