Nursing Edition: Can I call out sick from work?

February 8, 2019

This post is sponsored by DripDrop ORS.

Why is it that as a nurse we feel so guilty about calling out sick? During our onboarding process, we are informed of the policy regarding how to call out sick and how many sick days we are allotted, but yet we feel guilty when we need to. 

I know when I started my very first nursing job, I was terrified about what I was going to do when I got sick. During nursing school, I came down with some pretty bad colds and felt like I always fell ill during the winter months even getting a flu shot every year. The first few months from September and October was great during my first year because I was still on orientation during days. Then in October, I switched to nights and those Californian Santa Ana winds hit and I felt as though my allergies were acting up. I was setting myself up for a disaster between the lack of sleep and not taking care of myself properly. I knew I was not sick but felt terrible when I would have the sniffles in a patients' room. 

Sometime in December, I did actually get sick and was terrified about having to call out. It was a few days before I had to work and tried everything to heal as quickly as possible: taking Zicam, drinking Pedialyte, sleeping. Nothing seemed to help and I tried convincing myself and family mentally that I would be alright. I had decided that I did indeed feel well enough to drag myself through one shift. I showed up to work feeling somewhat okay with cold medicine. I had gotten through report okay and even passed all my 9 o'clock medications. By 10:30/11, I took a turn for the worst. My blood pressure dropped and my heart rate was up in the 100s. To make matters worse, I even through up during case management rounds in front of my assistant clinical director. They immediately called in the on-call and sent me home. I felt terrible and I could tell that the on-call was annoyed with me. 

So let's talk about calling in sick: you absolutely can call in sick! You cannot control when you are going to get sick, but you do need to follow your hospital policy. Do not be the person who knew they had an illness and called out at the last minute. It leaves your manager in a terrible spot to try and fix the staffing issue. You are entitled to sick days, but do not abuse them.

Depending on where you work, you also want to make sure that you are protecting your patients and coworkers when you are sick.  I know personally for me, I am dealing with patients who have no immune system. A simple cold for me may leave them in critical care for a few days. I simply cannot take care of my patients without taking care of myself first.

The bottom line is, I know you feel like you have a duty to your floor to always be there and at your best, but your best is not when you are sick. So absolutely take care of yourself and call out if you need to! 

Here are some tips to take care of yourself during a cold:

Prevent sickness: 
First things first, avoid getting sick! This means washing your hands with soap and water. Avoiding people who are sick. And getting a flu shot if your immune system allows it. 

You can also boost your immune system by eating your fruits and vegetables, shocking right?!

Take a steamy shower or use a humidifier:
Added moisture to the air helps break up congestion allowing you to feel like maybe, just maybe you can breathe.

Sleep with an extra pillow under your head:
Have you ever experienced the terrible feeling of trying to lay flat with congestion? Well, it is almost like you are not able to breathe in the morning. To fix it? Just add an extra pillow and help relieve some irritation to your throat.

Avoid Dehydration:
Making sure you are getting enough fluids helps ease congestion, irritation to the back of your throat, and might make your cold shorter.

Cold and flu symptoms can worsen dehydration from diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and sweats. To restore balance and stay hydrated, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids. Cold and flu season can require drinking more than just water. Oral rehydration solutions promote a proper balance between water, glucose, and sodium. DripDrop is a great tasting, medical grade hydration solution developed by a doctor on a relief mission. DripDrop's power sticks have 1/2 the sugar and 3x the electrolytes than sports drinks and Pedialyte and contain 110% the recommended dose of Vitamin C and Zinc (to help fight the common cold).

DripDrop's formula is supported by the World Health Organization and can recover fluid as effective as an IV in just 16oz of water! Plus they have three great tasting flavors, berry, lemon, & watermelon. Check out their website here for more information. 

What are your tips for avoiding a cold?



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