Calling in sick, staffing issues - page 2

by staffing24 10,707 Views | 34 Comments

Hi there! I work in staffing for an LTC facility. I am also working on pre-reqs to get into an RN program. What is bothering me is the frequency of nurses calling in sick. Many of our nurses call in sick once a month (or... Read More


  1. 6
    Nursing is unforgiving,if you are sick and make an error, you could hurt a patient.In other jobs you want to leave early for an appointment no problem ,nursing forget it call out it is easier.
    Bella'sMyBaby, mudd68, anotherone, and 3 others like this.
  2. 0
    If you are sick why would you want to take care of 25-30 patients with weak immune systems? If it is someone who does it frequently nd just doesn't care that is different.. I'm the only floating am nurse and one of the other nurses calls out at least once every 2 weeks and of course on my day off I get the call lol .
  3. 0
    I feel like once a month is excessive for 12's....I only work 12 days a month for heaven's sake! But if you're sick you're sick. I am one of those that has to be vomiting or bleeding out the eyeballs to not show up. Different people have different ideas of sick though, if they feel they can't do their job properly I suppose they should stay home.
  4. 7
    Gee, working with a bunch of sick people, in a stressful job...
    It makes me think about something I learned in my nursing pre-reqs. Something about the immune system?

    I'm not a fan of those who come to work sick. Since they're in the nurses station with me, a place that should be "safe," using the phone and computer keyboard that I'm using, touching the doorknob to the med room that I'm using, it's the staff that I catch things from much more often than patients.

    I distinctly remember a person being convinced to come to work with strep. Guess who had strep the next week and had to call if for two days to cover the time she'd be contagious? Yep, that was me that had the JOY of strep, the cost of the antibiotics and the doctor visit, and had to burn two days of PTO because a staffing person convinced a nurse to come to work sick.

    Now that I've been exposed to everything known to man short of ebola, I rarely get sick. But right now I'm nursing a cold that I'm pretty sure I caught from my husband who's pretty sure he caught it from his coworker.
    Thank goodness that coworker didn't call in sick! Otherwise I'd be missing the delightful tooth pain I've got from the sinus pressure. And I've really enjoyed getting almost nothing done this weekend because I'm miserable and trying to kick this thing before my next class.
  5. 7
    Many staff call in sick at my facility because they have tried in the past to get a day off and staffing denied. After so many denials to use personal, vacation, or holiday time, people just started to call in sick. Sometimes staffing just refuses to work with nurses and support staff and this is what happens.
    Bella'sMyBaby, wooh, Aurora77, and 4 others like this.
  6. 1
    I worked the short term skilled wing at a LTC faclity for 2.5 years. How I lasted that long I'm not really sure. It had to have been the patients and the experience I was gaining while taking care of them. I'd only been a nurse for just over a year when I took that job on. Some evenings I would be driving home as I swore I was having a stroke probably should not have been driving. That just how stressed I was sometimes by the end of my shift. 24 patients, most were 2,3 days post op like you said. Hospitals, or should I say insurance companies are discharging patients way before they are ready! Us nurses working the skilled wings in LTC are an extension of the care that these patients would have abd SHOULD HAVE still been receiving at the hospital. VERY sick and unstable patients would be admitted to my wing and no, no, no sending them out and back to the hospial heaven forbid (so to speak). Seemed to me the most extensive and complex patients would arrive for admission Oh around 6 or 7 pm on Friday nights, usually at shift change. *come Monday AM I would get questioned as to why I didn't punch out at 7:30 when my shift was over, Another heaven forbid if the nurse coming on had to help finish the admission Arrrggghhh! I stuck it out for as long as I could, got some experience and asta la vista baby!! BTW I called off twice the whole 2 and a half years and haven't been the same since. For a while I was so burnt out, resentful and felt so broken mentally and emotionally. Considering looking for a career doing something other than nursing. Those days when I felt like crap, had an ear infection, bad cold... I should have stayed home. i was so busy taking care of others I forgot about me. The same handful of people, whether they were CNA's, LPN's or RN's called off time and time again. Quite often they would come back the next day with no evidence of being sick enough to call off. That may sound a bit judgemental but was my observation and my assessment skills are very good ha! Ok I think that was way more than my two cents.
    Bella'sMyBaby likes this.
  7. 2
    Oh and one other thing after a yr. of employment we were paid for one day sick time per YEAR. While all other sick hours were accrued and could be used only after three years of employment. When I left there I had something like 174 sick hours accrued that I could not use, nor get paid for when I left WoW..
    Bella'sMyBaby and MBARNBSN like this.
  8. 5
    I am a Pittsburg Pirates fan. Not a very good team, but they do their best with what they have. Unfortunately, a culture of losing has taken over the organization. At times, it seems the baseball gods are making it their creed that we never become winners. It doesn't matter how much talent we have on the field, how hard they play, how well the manager manages or if the GM is making the right moves or not. We lose, either way. Only thing that changes is how bad we look while we are losing.

    I think LTC has a "culture of burnout" much like my favorite baseball team has a culture of losing. LTC facilities foster an environment that promotes poor moral, burnout and poor coping mechanisms. Some people cope by being married to their jobs and letting their personal lives fall apart. Others turn to drugs and/or alcohol. Some lose their compassion or motivation and stop trying to make things work. The list of symptoms created by the LTC working environment is endless.

    Yes, excessive call offs and having to take a "mental day" every single month is one of many coping mechanisms nurses in LTC rely on. This is, of course, assuming the call offs are simply mental days, as you seem to believe they are. When being critical of this behavior though, keep in mind the essential point they teach you in nursing school when you are dealing with an individual who is relying on "Ineffective Coping Mechanisms". That point is: Do not take someones coping mechanism away from them without giving them an adequate replacement. It's a nice way of saying "Don't take away the drug addicts drugs unless you can treat the withdraw."

    So, I understand you think the behavior should stop. What do you propose to do about it? How can the environment be changed in such a way that the "mental days" are not so necessary? You made it clear there are many nurses doing it, so I can't help but draw the conclusion that its the system, not the people. This is not a case of nurses being lazy or selfish, as you implied (maybe unintentionally). This is a case of a facility wearing down its staff to the point where they have to take extreme measures to protect themselves.

    Even if you worked with each individual nurse and gave them counseling to the point where they could handle the environment as is, it'd have to be an ongoing process. You'd have new nurses coming in who would need counseling, most of the nurses already there would have to continue theirs............

    Or, you could change the environment so that it is not so toxic. Sort of take a "Treat the disease, not the symptom" approach. I'm sure the administration of the facility are well aware of the problems and how to fix it, but they don't. [nudges shoulders] I wonder why? I'm willing to guess its because they are not willing to spend the money it would take and they, to put it bluntly, are not interested in being that invested in the patient's care or their employee's well being.

    So, the problem continues on, with the symptoms being held in check by attendance policies. Its the cheapest, easiest solution. To sum it all up: The problem is the facility and it's lack of compassion (for both the patients and it's workers), not the nurses who are put in a position of having to take mental days.
    iluvivt, wooh, tokebi, and 2 others like this.
  9. 5
    How hard does the facility make it to take a PTO day in advance? I am dismayed to find at my current position that taking a day of PTO requires nothing short of a miracle. There is always a claim of being too short staffed to allow it. But we have not hired anyone and the staffing ratios are what they are, all the time.

    As long as people aren't allowed to plan ahead for days off they are going to be left with no choice but to use their PTO as call-outs.
    Bella'sMyBaby, chevyv, wooh, and 2 others like this.
  10. 5
    At my facility, we are allowed 1.5 paid sick days per month. Some people take advantage of this, some don't. The work load is heavy, and there is a lack of team work. If management was truly plugged in to staff concerns, the sick calls would decrease.
    wooh, Aurora77, anotherone, and 2 others like this.


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