Healthcare Jobs

Getting Sick As A Nurse

It’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 and how to avoid getting sick?

Should Nurses Be Working While 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. In addition to spreading infections to patients, cold-symptoms can often result in a lack of ability to think straight. In turn, this is a side-effect that can impair judgement and risks the endangerment of a patient.

How To Call In Sick As A Nurse

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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. Waiting until the last minute to call a facility could result in disciplinary action, so calling both your facility and your manager at your staffing agency with advance notice is the best practice and is typically required.

  4. 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.

How Do Doctors And Nurses Avoid Getting Sick?

There are several proactive steps that both doctors and nurses can take to avoid getting sick.

  1. Clean Hands

    Both nurses and doctors should be washing their hands frequently throughout the day. Not only are they coming into contact with patients, but they are also touching shared surfaces such as doorknobs, countertops and water fountains. According to the CDC, scrubbing your hands for 20 seconds is the optimal length of time for hand washing. Need a helpful way to remember? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from start to finish twice.

  2. Healthy Eating

    Being mindful of what you eat can help contribute towards the prevention of getting sick. Eating leafy green vegetables are key since they are rich in vitamins that contribute towards a health immune system.

  3. Rest

    Getting an adequate amount of sleep is another key practice to implement especially when trying to avoid getting sick. When sleeping, your body releases proteins called cytokines. Certain types of cytokines help to prevent inflammation and infections. With a lack of sleep, comes a lack of cytokines production which may contribute towards the likelihood of catching a cold/flu/etc.

  4. Clean Surfaces

    Be sure to clean surfaces regularly, especially in a hospital/doctor’s office/etc. setting. By disinfecting surfaces, including counters, doorknobs, faucets and knobs, you will be preventing the potential spread of viruses and other germs.

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