Getting "Called Off"

  1. Ok, stupid question from student nurse who's only worked in a corporate environment for the last 15 years (i.e., stable hours/salary). What exactly is "getting called off"? Does that mean that if I am a staff RN and I am scheduled for a shift, they can just call and tell me forget it, you can't come? How is anyone supposed to have a budget and earn a living like that? Or is it just if you are per diem? Please enlighten me. This is alarming!! If "getting called off" is what I think it is, how do you deal with it?

    The healthcare industry in general, and hospitals in particular, seem so f-I mean messed up when it comes to personnel/staffing/payroll!
    •  
  2. 27 Comments

  3. by   lannisz
    Well, the hospital I worked at had mandatory call time. Depending on how many patients were in our unit at any one time, if we had too many nurses scheduled and not enough patients, we could be put "on call" or "called off". On call meant that if we had any admissions, they would call you to come in. Called off meant our census was so low you didn't have to work that shift. It's hardly ever a problem because we are always so busy. In fact, when I worked night shift, I would always sign up voluntarily to be the first called off...I wanted to sleep and there were plenty who needed the shift. We had a sign up list and since there were always volunteers to be called off, you never had to worry about not getting enough hours!
  4. by   Otessa
    "called off" = no pay, use PL/PTO/vacation time for your pay that day or get zip/zero/nada UNLESS they have you on-call so you can get the $2.50/hour......
  5. by   Uptoherern
    one of the only professions in the universe where this occurs.
  6. by   peds4now
    Amazing! Does this affect your paycheck often, or is it rare these days? How often do you have to go in last minute when called to make up for having a scheduled shift cancelled? When I research potential employers, can I address this by asking how stable their census is? Should I ask how many times last year was your census under xx%? I guess I have to ask nurses working there.
  7. by   Cindy_A
    It's just like Zias said. There usually isn't a problem. There are enough people who want VNP days (voluntary no pays) that you VERY seldom don't get to work. When I worked in a hospital, I believe I was only called off or put "on call" 6 days. This averaged only 2 days per year, since I worked there 3 years, which didn't really put a dent in my budget. Honestly, I wouldn't worry too much about it.
  8. by   TiffyRN
    I'm sure it depends on the policies of your particular hospital.

    At my hospital, I am guaranteed 36hrs/week. However, we are a closed (mostly) unit and the nurses are "called off" occasionally due to low census. The thing is if you insist the hospital is required to let you work; however it may be in some area that you would not want to go to. You shouldn't be required to do things you don't know how. For example you might get used as an aide on a General floor. I work NICU and all the nurses I work with would rather have a skimpy paycheck than ever be pulled to med-surg or oncology (or any other adult field). As it stands we are usually only pulled to Mother/Baby and then we only do baby care, someone else splits the assignment and cares for the moms.
  9. by   goats'r'us
    where i worked, they could call you and say 'we have too many staff, would you like the day off?', but it was your choice whether you wanted to work or not. Once they'd rostered you on, they had to ASK you if they wanted to make any changes.

    i thought that would be the deal everywhere!
  10. by   not now
    Where I work we have "team" nursing so we use both LVN's and RN's. If there are too many nurses for the amount of patients in the unit we were "docked" (called off), floated to a unit that needed staff or moved to another position.

    More than likely it was an LVN that was moved. I have never seen a RN docked, floated or work as a CNA. If there were too many RN's one took over an LVN spot and an LVN was made a CNA, floated or docked.

    If there wasn't enough CNA's then an LVN would work in that role for the day (yes, they kept their pay). We take turns. It's written down in a book who worked as a CNA and what the date was. If you were a CNA last week it's someone else's turn.

    Floating rarely happened since the hospital doesn't use LVN's except on our unit and the unit next door.

    Most people welcome a dock every once and a while. Except when we consistantly keep a low census because we are docked frequently. It is nice once and a while to get that call...
  11. by   dragonflyRN
    depending on where you work....it happens. I work per diem at one hospital and take on call whenever they call.....only been called in once. In my full time position...they offer bonus to pick up shifts. I wouldn't suggest asking question's about census when interviewing. Take it as it comes, and be flexible. Sometimes they might ask you to work a different shift.
  12. by   bethin
    Quote from schooldays
    Amazing! Does this affect your paycheck often, or is it rare these days? How often do you have to go in last minute when called to make up for having a scheduled shift cancelled? When I research potential employers, can I address this by asking how stable their census is? Should I ask how many times last year was your census under xx%? I guess I have to ask nurses working there.
    It most certainly affected my paycheck. My hospital has been super super slow (8pts for 29 beds!) and I get called off alot. I've used up all my PTO and because I'm WEO I need PTO to take a vacation. So that vacation I had paid and planned for forever was on the brink of cancellation. I refused to come in, saying I took my low census time. I got my vacation.

    Also, I have no savings acct now, my bills are late, etc. It's been a very tough year and it's not easy finding a CNA job that meets my schedule.

    Definitely ask about census. At our hospital it used to be super busy during fall/winter and lighten up for summer but it depends. You need to ask about history.
  13. by   firstyearstudent
    Is this the case even in union hospitals?
  14. by   banditrn
    I generally volunteered for low census because many of my co-workers were single moms.

    I did hate being 'on-call' tho - I'd rather come in and work, or stay home.

close