Case Management Focus: Job Analysis — The Cornerstone of a Comprehensive Injury Management Program

15 Jan, 2024 Anne Llewellyn


Sarasota, FL ( -- As a worker's compensation nurse case manager, I worked with many people who sustained a work injury that, even after physician therapy, found it difficult to determine if they could return to work.

They would recover from their injury but had trouble returning to their original job due to continued pain or other complications related to the injury. One of the challenges I faced was knowing what component of the job the employee could not do due to their injury. 

When talking to the doctor, he would ask, "What type of work did the patient do? The patient could usually tell them but often could not detail the intricacies of the job, thus making it impossible for the doctor to give a definitive answer.

One of my duties on opening a case was to talk to the employer about the components of the job the injured worker was expected to do. If the employer had a job description, it was usually to general to give the details the doctor needed.

In these cases, I suggested to the doctor to consider a vocational specialist, or a physical therapist do a job analysis.

A Job Analysis is the cornerstone for determining a position's essential functions and helps identify the associated physical demands required to do the job. Some employers do a job analysis on all new hires. This gives a baseline on what is expected compared to the worker’s capabilities. This initial job analysis is also helpful to the rehabilitation team to know what is expected from the employee and how they can work with the injured worker to help them get back to their baseline.

Vocational Specialists, Physical Therapists, or Occupational Therapists are professionals who perform job analyses. They take the job description and put the injured worker through the various aspects of their job. They document the person’s ability to complete the job and identify their weaknesses.

Once done, they write a report with a recommendation so the doctor can decide on the next steps.

The next step might be to continue rehabilitation to work on areas that prevent returning to work or move to a work-hardening program to focus on specific needs.

It is essential to work with the employer if an injured worker cannot return to the same job they held before the injury. Working with the employer lets you know if the employer can bring the injured worker back to a light-duty job that would best fit the injured worker's restrictions. Helping the employee see that returning to work is an essential part of their rehabilitation program and helping them understand what they can with some accommodations. This gives the employer and the employee hope when things look grim. 

Many employers might not think they have a light-duty job to fit an employee's restriction or that implementing one will be costly. The job analysis can give information on the scope of the adaptations needed to meet an injured worker's needs.  Many times, adaptations can be put into place thus allowing the injured worker return to gainful employment.

When an expert like a vocational specialist or a therapist makes their recommendations, employers are surprised how inexpensive they are.

The nurse case manager can positively influence the employer and the injured worker by helping them set realistic expectations of their abilities. Assisting injured workers in seeing their progress is essential so they maintain hope.

Calling a vocational specialist or a therapist to do a job analysis can give important information to the doctor, the employer, and you, the case manager and the vocational specialist. Together, we make a difference!

If you have a story where you helped to get an injured worker back to work after an injury, please feel free to share it with me, and I will use it in a future post.

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    About The Author

    • Anne Llewellyn

      Anne Llewellyn is a registered nurse with over forty years of experience in critical care, risk management, case management, patient advocacy, healthcare publications and training and development. Anne has been a leader in the area of Patient Advocacy since 2010. She was a Founding member of the Patient Advocate Certification Board and is currently serving on the National Association of Health Care Advocacy. Anne writes a weekly Blog, Nurse Advocate to share stories and events that will educate and empower people be better prepared when they enter the healthcare system.

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