Jobs for the Squeamish Nurse

Jobs for the Squeamish Nurse

There are those who consider themselves ineligible for nursing because they are afraid of needles, shriek at the sight of blood, or believe they couldn’t handle the pressure of caring for sick patients.

So-called “squeamish” individuals need not write off nursing as a career. There are many nonclinical roles in nursing such as research and leadership, but they often require nursing experience. The following is a broad overview of careers for the squeamish nurse.

Within the Hospital

Many mental health nurses are not exposed to trauma, and depending on patient acuity, they may only administer oral medication. Similarly, nurses in narcotic detox facilities give out medication by mouth and rarely, if ever, deal with the more physically graphic aspects of nursing. Naturally, there are other considerations one would need to take into account in terms of disposition when addressing these patient populations.

There are hospital positions that require little to no medication administration. For some pre-procedure nurses, their work often focuses on preoperative interview and assessment. This may involve minimal physical contact with patients, such as assistance with surgery prep, disrobing, or preoperative skin prep. It requires well-developed assessment skills and familiarity with different surgical procedures. These positions will depend on how the facility distributes perioperative responsibilities among nursing.

Mother-baby nursing may be an appropriate position for the mildly squeamish nurse who can handle the occasional unexpected event. To the extent that mother-baby nurses are not required to rotate through labor & delivery or work with high-risk births; their role is mainly assessing newborns and managing the care of young, and mostly healthy mothers. This type of nursing involves a unique, highly specialized skill set for working with the youngest patients.

Outside the Hospital

Home health nursing positions are increasing where registered nurses oversee the work of ancillary nursing personnel, such as home health aides, and certified nursing assistants. Home health nursing may involve direct patient care where nurses assess patients, administer medications, and refer to advanced practitioners for any changes in patient regimens. Home health nurses may also work with insurance companies to protect patient coverage and advocate on their behalf.

Similarly, case management uses nursing expertise in a nonclinical setting. Nurses utilize their understanding of patient population-specific needs, but they do not provide direct patient care.  More commonly, case management involves advocating for patient access to necessary services and following up with patients to ensure their health needs are being met.

Outpatient clinic and primary care nursing focus on assessment and treatment of minor illnesses. Under this umbrella are school nursing and specialized outpatient clinics, such as internal medicine, pain management, psychiatry, and orthopedics. Primary care nurses do administer medication and perform wound care, therefore, the squeamish nurse may want to investigate site-specific duties.

Aesthetic nursing may be a good choice for a nurse who doesn’t want exposure to sick patients. This is a growing skill set within nursing and nurses can generate a lucrative income. Nurses in these roles will often administer injections.

A Caveat

It is important to keep in mind that every employer has different expectations and policies. Each individual must understand their own personal limits and job requirements before taking a nursing position. Furthermore, even positions suitable for the squeamish nurse require highly specialized skills and critical thinking.

All nurses are trained to work with a variety of patient populations, including the acutely ill. There is no way through nursing school without exposure to situations that many would consider either upsetting or even repulsive. That being said, there are many nurses who formerly identified themselves as queasy in the face of illness who find the reality of patient care much more tolerable than they anticipated. For many nurses, the spirit of service, and perhaps a bit of repeated exposure, together outweigh the upsetting sensory experience they formerly identified with nursing.

Share Your Thoughts, RNs!

Share Your Thoughts, RNs!

A short survey is being conducted to explore the perceptions of registered nurses regarding the current status and anticipated future of the nursing profession. The data will be used to inform a new book to be published by Sigma Theta Tau International, the nursing honor society: Solutions for the Future of Nursing: Learning from the Past to Address the Challenges of the Future. Please go to: for survey to add your perspective.

Genetic research gets a $6.5 million boost

The funding underwrites research regarding the relationship between genetics and aggressive prostate cancer in African Americans, the connection between viruses and cervical cancer, and the role of genes in asthma and obesity among children.

Research has yet to determine why some diseases, like cervical and prostate cancer, disproportionately affect minorities, though it’s often credited to a lack of health care access and information. Could genetics be a signifi – cant factor too? That’s what scientists at Dillard University and the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center are now trying to prove, with help from a $6.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

In particular, the funding underwrites research regarding the relationship between genetics and aggressive prostate cancer in African Americans, the connection between viruses and cervical cancer, and the role of genes in asthma and obesity among children.

Awarded in June, the fi veyear grant will fund genetic research, support community education programs, and sponsor clinical trial recruitment efforts, all among minority communities. The lack of diverse ethnic and racial participation in clinical trials is an ongoing, national problem as well, and researchers must combat lingering mistrust, stemming from improperly conducted research in the past. Nursing students at Dillard, a historically black university, are being specially trained to recruit minorities for their clinical studies.

Rather than stress the racial determinants, researchers hope to pinpoint the key genetic combinations that make people susceptible to certain diseases, regardless of their ethnicity. However, the overarching goal is addressing, reducing, and eliminating health disparities among ethnic groups.

Mobility limitations in African Americans linked to depressive symptoms

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has led a study displaying a relation between demographic health issues and mobility limitation. Researchers found that depressed African American women had almost three times the odds of mobility limitations than those who are not depressed. Additionally, African Americans reporting multiple medical conditions tended to have a higher risk of mobility limitations than those with fewer medical conditions. The study can be found in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Gerontology.

The study was conducted with 602 African Americans, made up of men and women between the ages of 48 and 92. The participants previously reported having difficulties walking and climbing stairs. The researchers used logistic regression to measure how demographics and health independently affected mobility. Results proved that pre-existing medical conditions in African Americans were associated with mobility limitations; however, African American women with lower incomes were affected the most.

Roland Thorpe, assistant scientist with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management, says depressive symptoms have not been labeled as a mobility limitation factor in the past, but the studies have begun to prove otherwise. Thorpe says the problem might have been a lack of motivation rather than a mobility limitation; therefore, in order to repair mobility, African Americans must tend to medical conditions right away and control their depressive symptoms.

Study shows minority women more likely to die during or soon after childbirth

A recent study hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that minority women in the United States are more likely to die during or soon after childbirth than white women.

The study looked at black, Hispanic, and Asian women, and some white women not born in the United States. These minorities accounted for 41% of all births nationwide between 1993–2006, but for 62% of pregnancy-related deaths.

Dr. Andreea Creanga, medical epidemiologist of the CDC, and her research team found that for every 100,000 babies born to white women, seven to nine mothers died from pregnancy-related complications. On the contrary, 32–35 African American women died for every 100,000 live babies. Deaths among Hispanic and Asian women were around 10 per 100,000.

A total of about 7,500 women died of complications related to pregnancy within the 14-year period. Heart problems and general cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, were the most common causes of death in childbirth for both white and black women.

Additionally, older women were most likely to die during childbirth. Eighteen white mothers ages 35 and older died for every 100,000 babies born, as did 99 black women of a similar age per 100,000—almost one death for every 1,000 babies.

Researchers used collected data on all women who died within a year after pregnancy, as well as birth records for their babies. They also conclude that some differences may be due to minority women’s lack of access to good prenatal care, noting that pre-existing health problems likely contributed to their deaths as well. Some heartrelated deaths are due to genetic or dietary differences between women, but deaths related to bleeding at childbirth are preventable with medical care.

Researchers didn’t have access to clinical details such as birth method and mothers’ weight, both of which could affect pregnancy risks.