Travel Nursing Problem: Are You Too Sick to Work?

by Howard Gerber on February 8, 2018

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sick healthcare travelerIt’s happened to all of us at one time or another. The alarm clock goes off, your nose is stuffed up, and your throat is on fire. As much as you want to deny it, you’re sick. Now it’s decision time. Do you try to tough it out and go into to work, or do you call in sick?

Whether it’s a new travel nursing assignment or you have been on the job awhile, calling in sick is something that may stress you out. You don’t want to leave your co-workers short-staffed, and you may not get paid for the time off. What should you do?

The Hazards of Going to Work Sick

There is a difference between going to work when you have a headache and working when you are sick. Working if you are ill is not a good idea for a few reasons.

When you’re sick, you are likely to be less productive. It’s hard to do your best if you’re under the weather. Going to work when you’re ill can also make you worse. If you don’t get the rest you need, you can become even more rundown and get sicker.

One of the biggest concerns with going to work sick is that you may infect others. In addition to your co-workers, you can spread an infection to patients. Certain patients, such as the elderly and oncology and transplant patients, may be especially susceptible to illness.

Consideration for Calling in Sick as a Travel Nurse

If you get sick on a travel assignment, don’t make the situation worse by stressing out. Consider the suggestions below:

  • Know your facility’s policies: Hospitals and healthcare facilities have different policies regarding sick calls. If you have to call in sick, make sure you follow hospital policies. Call the correct person, often your shift supervisor.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute: You don’t always get a lot of notice that you’re sick. You might wake up with a horrible migraine or nauseous and are unable to give your healthcare facility a lot of notice. If possible, give the hospital as much warning as you can that you will be out sick. Waiting until the last minute to see if you feel better is not your best bet.
  • Let your staffing agency know: Before you start your travel assignment, determine if your staffing agency wants to be notified if you call in sick. Agency policies may differ. Some agencies may only want to know if you are absent for several shifts.
  • Let go of the guilt: Although you might not want to miss a shift, there are times when it can’t be helped. If you are truly sick, it’s important to take care of yourself. Although you may worry about your attendance record, people do get sick. Feeling guilty will not help the situation.

Getting sick is never fun. How did you handle the situation while on a travel assignment?


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