Are there career limitations with RA?

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Veteran Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 553
   Posted 3/11/2008 7:54 AM (GMT -7)   
This is a question that I will be asking my Rheumy tomorrow, but I figure you may know the answer as well and may be able to offer me better advice. scool  
I have been planning a career in the health care field since I was 8yrs old.  I have finally returned to school and am working toward a nursing degree, with a specialty in communications so I can be a public speaker on medical topics.  Between conferences I assumed I would continue the lactation consultations that I have been doing in homes.  Another option was to work in the hospital as a nurse.
Both of these career choices bring me in contact with lots of people.  In the hospital I am exposed to infections that you don't come into contact with in the 'normal' population. As far as I have read, the typical treatmment of RA is to supress the immune system in some fashion to keep it from attacking the joints.  This increases the risk of dangerous infections.
confused  Is it suggested to limit your exposure to other people who ay be ill?  To what degree?  Should I be rethinking my career choices?
I am at the crossroads that if I decided to change my field of study, I need to do that this summer.  What should I be thinking about when considering my career while living with RA?  What would you do if you were in my shoes?

When you cannot stand, on whom do you lean?

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2006
Total Posts : 1179
   Posted 3/11/2008 1:07 PM (GMT -7)   
hey christina just wanted to share with you my experience as i work in health care community based.  i have two degrees one in OT and one is bus. management.  i took the second for leadership growth in my later years..... lol
i have not been an OT for some time now but not because i couldnt do the job but because i ending up specializing in vision rehab.   as a traditional ot i think it would be hard for me to lift patients on a daily basis so i am thankful my path changed sometime back.  however, not to say i culdnt do it????  i dont know i am pretty stubborn when it comes to doing things.  i think that is the OT in me!  independence independence independence!  find a way to do it ..... so that is how i live my life find alternate ways to do things that are harder for me to do now. 
nursing does have a ton of avenues to choose.  hospital nurses i think have the toughest jobs  much harder than the nurse at my primaries office who maybe takes my temp?  i know that might not be exciting enough for you?  i have a friend who went into nursing late in life and did so for the cash!  then she hated hospital care, hated hospice care, hated home helath care, and finally found teaching nursing and loves it!  again many faces of nursing, which is your passion? public speaking is great. also i have a friend who has severe back problems so she works in the nursery. you already are a lactation specialist? maybe that would float your boat? cute little babies holding them, awwww. 
as far as people go we cant live in plastic bubbles.  i have stock in bath n body hand cleaner and use it after every home visit i go to. i also wash my hands like a million times a day and try not to touch my eyes nose and mouth during the course of the day.  i am exposed to many different germs and enter some condemned homes, but knock on wood i am ok. heck we recently had a huge scare in town for hep a from a worker in a supermarket.  life happens.  tb, hep they are out there not only with known sick people ...... healthy looking people can be unknown carriers - but yes work does increase our risk if we allow it. universal precautions.  they still use that phrase.  i live by it.
that is another reason why i chose enbrel over humeria and remicade.  i spoke to my rhuemmy and enbrel has the shortest life span in my system so if i do come in contact with something horrible my immune system wont be comprimised as long on enbrel as it would on the other meds. it works for me?
i feel you have to love what you do in life and if you do- you love life..... i love my job. i hope you find something that you love and the rest will fit in place. 
sorry for the long reply.  but like you and public speaking- i too do a lot of public speaking and i sometimes dont shut up!  hahahahahaha   hugs yally tongue

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 2113
   Posted 3/11/2008 1:25 PM (GMT -7)   
My step father has RA and has been a lead carpenter for thirty years. Not a typical career for someone with RA. He had his hip replaced about a year ago and went right back to work after a short rehab.

I work in a congragate care facility for people with intelectual disabities. I am exposed to all kinds of things I do probably get more small infections than most people but have not been seriously ill. (this is the second year in a row that there has been a flu outbreak among my clients but I haven't gotten the flu and I am on plaq and pred).

You will eventually run in to some limits but don't set them before you get to them. If you become a nurse and then decide you cant do direct patient care you will find a great outet for you knowedge, skills, and love of your work. Go for what you love-and then expand your options within the field by taking every chance you get to obtain education or experience that would let you choose your way.

By the way I agree about the universal precautions.

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 22
   Posted 3/12/2008 6:25 PM (GMT -7)   
I have been on 12.5 - 15 mg Methotrexate for 20 years. All of those being a nurse in the hospital all over around sick people. I am healthier than most people my age besides arthritis.
Age 3 fell on my knee.  I have Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis in all my joints, Patellar-Femoral Syndrome, GERD, degenerative hip disease
Medications routine: Mobic, Plaquenil, Methotrexate, Flexeril, Nexium.

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 103
   Posted 3/19/2008 5:54 PM (GMT -7)   
I think you should do what makes you happy. I am a nurse and wouldn't trade it for the world. You will have so many options.

Live your life. Don't set limitations. Listen to your body and care for yourself first.

Mary in NJ
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