As a healthcare professional one of the most important topics is what to do when you are sick or possibly contagious or need a mental health day off. It’s not as easy as one may think. You could risk infecting your coworkers and patients on one hand, but you could also risk losing your job. There are stories out there about people losing their jobs because they were sick and didn’t show up. This is most likely rare but it shows how much pressure nurses have to be present and functional as they do their jobs. We are going to look at your options and the optimal solutions.
Staying healthy is priority number one. There is a lot of pressure to be there for your team as a healthcare worker so we all have to try to practice safe health practices. Wash your hands for 20 seconds, make sure the surfaces and door knobs are cleaned regularly. Get plenty of rest and eat healthy food. When we take care of ourselves, we reduce the chances of getting sick.
However if you do get sick, you should contact your employer as soon as possible. Read your employers’ guidelines on what to do and follow them. Another thing to do is contact your staffing agency. Ask your staffing agency manager what to do if you become ill. They may have some tips for handling the situation with your employer. The worst thing to do is wait until the last minute because this will make it harder for your employer to fill the position. And harder for you to make decisions when you become ill.
Another helpful tip is that you should try not to feel guilty for calling in sick. It is harder on your coworkers without you being at work, but employers should have backup available to them. Also, you are doing everyone at the office a huge favor by not infecting them or burdening them with your mental health issues. Listen to your body and try to heal without feeling guilty. Let the bigger picture of safe health practices come into play because you are nurses, not super warriors with super powers. Although some may argue with that sentiment.
In some circumstances you may have to go to work sick. There are many reasons why a nurse will still go to work if they are sick. For one, too many sick days can lead to termination. Vacation days are used before sick days, some employers are strict this way. To call in sick, a physician’s note may be necessary. Sick days are also mentioned during evaluations.
Here’s what to do when taking a sick day is not an option. Make sure you wear a mask and gloves to keep a barrier between you and other people. Avoid patients with compromised immune systems. Ask another nurse to help patients who have poor immune systems because you could risk infecting a patient who can’t fight off an infection. Also, if you have a flu or a stomach infection it may be unrealistic to work.
Overall, nurse health is very important. Nurses should try to stay healthy and be informed of their employer policies. Contact your staffing agency for information as well. And above all be prepared to work sick sometimes.