Who Takes Care of the Nurses?

It's one of those days â€" you're not feeling well, but you're not deathly ill. If you have to, you can make it out of bed and in to work.

It’s one of those days — you’re not feeling well, but you’re not deathly ill. If you have to, you can make it out of bed and in to work. But you really don’t want to because you know that if you were to sleep as much as you can today and really take care of yourself, you’ll be better. You know if you go in to work, you’re stressing your body, working against healing, and possibly spreading anything you may have.

What do you do? If you’re a nurse, there’s a very good chance that you get up and go to work. I remember when I worked in the hospital, I always felt guilty calling in sick, no matter how badly I felt. Some of the nursing supervisors didn’t help by not being very sympathetic or asking too many questions. What was frustrating is that we were entitled to 9 sick days and if you took them, you felt bad. I know when I worked as a supervisor, if a nurse called in sick, I thanked them for calling and wished them a speedy recovery. End of story.

I’ve been reading various nursing forums and I have friends who still work in the system; nothing seems like it’s changed. I know when I was working at one place, you could save your sick days and whichever ones you didn’t take from your nine allotted days, you received pay for at the end of the year and this was just in time for Christmas.

While this may seem like a good idea, a real incentive, I do know of nurses who really should have stayed home because they were so sick, but they came in because they wanted to save their sick days.

To be fair, it’s not only in the nursing culture that calling in sick is frowned upon, however, in the nursing field — in health care in general – it really should not be an issue. After all, aren’t we supposed to be more aware of these things?

Ok, so what are the pros of a sick nurse coming in to work: a body is there to supposedly work, the admin doesn’t have to try to replace them, and coworkers don’t have to take on a heavier load.

What are the cons? The nurse can get sicker and have to take longer off when all is said and done. The nurse may be present but how much work is possible? Coworkers may still end up working harder and doing more. The nurse can spread the illness so more nurses get sick and they can bring the illness home, causing more illness to be spread around. Patients who are recovering from their own issues may become ill with whatever the nurse has — and the list goes on.

I know there are nurses — as in every profession – who abuse their sick day policies. I also know of nurses who have no sick day policies. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. People have to pay their bills and can’t afford to do that. Then, there are some nurses who have to comment when their coworkers call in sick, often with an attitude of “*I* never call in sick,” or “there she goes again, calling in sick again.” That doesn’t help.

So, back to the original question — who takes care of the nurses? With the ever dwindling numbers of nurses entering and staying in the profession, it’s time we started taking care of ourselves properly. Because if we don’t, no-one will. And if we’re all sick, who will take care of the patients?