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Back to Basics: A Travel Nurses Guide to Lifting Patients

Back to Basics: A Travel Nurses Guide to Lifting Patients

Back to Basics: A Travel Nurses Guide to Lifting Patients

Who would imagine that hospital workers are considered to have more work-related injuries than construction workers? Most of these injuries are sprains and strains that are a result of improper patient lifting. Many things affect a travel nurses day to day activities but nothing can make a day more excruciating to get through than chronic pain. Travel nurses have dedicated their lives to helping others deal with pain and suffering, but when anyone is plagued by their own pain it is extremely difficult to focus on helping others. The most common injuries caregivers such as travel nurses experience are to their back, neck, and shoulders. These injuries are predominately caused by overuse-repeating the same pulling or lifting motions over and over.

What to Consider before Lifting a Patient:

When starting a new travel nurse assignment, always check to see if there are any guidelines which need to be followed by staff or patients.

  1. What is the weight of your patient?
  2. What is the mode of transportation? (wheelchair, stretcher, Gurney)
  3. Know your own limitations-be honest and realistic.
  4. Know when to get help – if you are unable to safely or properly move a patient on your own, get help.

Guidelines for Good Lifting Techniques:

Here are some general guidelines to follow when lifting or moving a patient. Remember to first check at your new travel nurse assignment to see if there are any specific guidelines that you need to follow.

  1. Always keep your head and neck in alignment with your spine.
  2. Always maintain the natural curve of your spine, do not bend at your waist.
  3. Avoid twisting your body when moving or carrying a patient.
  4. Always keep the patient being moved close to your body. This helps to maintain your natural center of gravity and keeps you steady on your feet.
  5. In order to maintain your balance and distribute your patient’s weight, keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
  6. Use your leg muscles to lift and pull, not your back.

Additional Ways to Help Avoid Injury:

There are also preventative measures that any travel nurse should take in order to help avoid injury.

  1. Stay in shape. Travel nurses who maintain a healthy weight, flexibility and muscle strength are much less likely to sustain an injury while lifting a patient.
  2. Always wear good shoes. Wear comfortable shoes that absorb shock. Long shifts of standing and walking on hard floors put a great deal of stress on a travel nurse back. For suggestions on what shoes to wear, read 5 Best Shoes for a Travel Nurse to Wear.
  3. Seek employers that offer proper technology and training. Check to see if hospitals have motorized ceiling lifts, portable lifts or transfer technology. All of these are used to ease the physical demands of nursing.
  4. Look for alternative assignments. If you're already suffering from back pain, look for travel nurse assignments that will allow you to find relief; look for a specialty that doesn’t require heavy lifting

A travel nurse’s job can have many physical demands and you must take care of yourself first in order to best care for others. Start by implementing relevant safety measures that minimize injury risk prevalent in the travel nursing career. In order to do this, you should always have a plan before you lift a patient, make sure to lift patients properly and safely and avoid injury by taking preventative measures. These safety solutions protect both patients and travel nurses and the positive impact of safe patient handling will last long into your travel nurse career


If you’re looking for a travel nursing agency that is founded by veteran nurses, Vero RN is the company for you.  Vero RN can place you in hospitals and clinics that can help you realize your true potential. Search for jobs and register for new one's today. Dial 866-617-7682 to start your journey.

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