Calling in sick, staffing issues

  1. 2
    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 even more often!).

    If you are sick or have a family emergency, by all means you need a day off! If nurses call sick every month however, I am assuming that they are not actually sick. It is disheartening to me that I am trying to get into an industry that these nurses are so..burned out?...that they will just call sick.

    Is it so stressful in LTC that nurses need a day off every month? Is it harder to be sick at work, especially if you are on your feet doing med pass, etc? Are these nurses working 2 jobs and would make more money at the other facility that particular day?

    any thoughts on the subject? thank you!!
    Last edit by Joe V on Sep 24, '12 : Reason: spacing
    Joe V and TheCommuter like this.
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  3. 34 Comments so far...

  4. 13
    It's not just the profession of nursing... it's called work for a reason and they have the right to use their time off/sick days as they see fit as long as they are following policy/the law to use it.


    First- don't assume. Jumping to the conclusion that they have a second job is kind of weird to me. Whether they have the flu or just workitis...does it really matter. Yes, nurses get burnt out and need a mental health day I would assume at a higher rate than some jobs but not all.

    Second- you work in staffing, so the volume of sick calls you see is high because that's your job.

    Third- being sick at work sucks. Nursing is physically and mentally draining, so they should be encourage to stay home and heal.

    Lastly- who wants a sick nurse anyway..... I am sure the patients appreciate not being exposed to something else by the person sent to care for them.

    When I call out, I am not required to give a reason...it's nobodies business for what reason. I am not sure if that is company or state policy, but how and why I use my PTO/sick time is up to me. I would hate to think the person in staffing is worried about my personal business not my well being.
    noyesno, Bella'sMyBaby, tvmw, and 10 others like this.
  5. 15
    I wish that more LTC facilities in my area would offer 12-hour shifts.

    I worked in LTC on and off for six years and could not handle a schedule of five 8-hour shifts per week for an extended period of time. Being forced to work the floor in a nursing home for five 8-hour shifts caused me to feel as if I was always at the workplace, and to be honest, it drained my soul.

    Imagine five days per week of dealing with verbally abusive visitors, family members with unrealistic expectations, a massive patient load, heaps of paperwork, and the occasional resident emergency that pops up. To be honest, I would not want to put up with it for five days per week. I salute all the nurses who fight the battle in LTC on a daily basis.

    I was able to survive in LTC by working weekend shifts only. I worked weekend doubles for a couple of years at one facility, then worked two 12-hour weekend shifts per week at another facility. Since the weekend shifts enabled me to have Monday through Friday off, I felt rejuvenated and was able to cope better.

    Calling off once a month? Only once a month? I am surprised that the nurses are not calling in sick much more often. The nursing home industry can chew people up, spit them out, and steamroll the best of us.
    noyesno, Bella'sMyBaby, texaslvn12, and 12 others like this.
  6. 0
    I work in LTC as a floor RN and, while I agree with the first poster about not assuming, and also with the second poster about it being a little tough to work 5 days a week in LTC, I have to say, calling out once a month is ridiculous! It must cause HR/staffing/nursing a ton of trouble to try to rework the schedule every time someone calls out. This also puts an unfair strain on whoever is taking their place. Not to mention that the person with the short end of the stick in this case is usually going to be the residents...

    I'm surprised that The Commuter stated that once a month is surprisingly low? LOL

    Nursing is tough. But we signed up for it.

    In the State of Florida (obviously depending on the circumstances, recurrence, etc.) certain call-outs, especially without sufficient advance notice, can be deemed patient abandonment.
  7. 1
    OP, yes a person calling in sick once a month is excessive. It could be a sign of bad morale, overwork, or otherwise bad conditions.

    When I worked LTC I was sick more than I have ever been in my life. I don't know if part of it was the stress (so much stress!) and part of it was just poor handwashing or close quarters or what. Like, everyone- residents and staff alike- got this horrible GI bug. I was so sick. I got a painful ear infection (have NEVER had one before or since). So in my six months there I called in sick more than any other job ever, genuinely unable-to-work sick.

    Other nursing jobs, not so much.
    MBARNBSN likes this.
  8. 5
    Quote from hey_suz
    When I worked LTC I was sick more than I have ever been in my life. I don't know if part of it was the stress (so much stress!) and part of it was just poor handwashing or close quarters or what. Like, everyone- residents and staff alike- got this horrible GI bug. I was so sick. I got a painful ear infection (have NEVER had one before or since). So in my six months there I called in sick more than any other job ever, genuinely unable-to-work sick.
    I began to experience stress-related physical symptoms while working in the short-term skilled unit of a LTC facility. My stomach would churn, my heart would race, palpitations would develop, and sometimes I would feel the sudden urge to defecate. The stress was so great that the job was beginning to get on my nerves and affect my health.

    I only called off once or twice yearly while working in LTC, but I still do not judge the nurses who call in sick more frequently. A poorly-run LTC facility can chew a good nurse up and spit him or her out with no mercy.
    Bella'sMyBaby, joanna73, MBARNBSN, and 2 others like this.
  9. 11
    Quote from AngelRN27
    Nursing is tough. But we signed up for it.
    Yes, we all signed up for nursing, and nobody put a gun to our heads and forced us into this profession. Our choice to become nurses was purely voluntary.

    However, we did not sign up for the mental, social, and political 'extras' that cause our jobs to be so much more difficult than necessary. There are many reasons why the nursing home industry has an employee turnover rate comparable to the fast food industry. Some facilities are so darned unpleasant that good workers simply cannot stick around for too long.
    Bella'sMyBaby, tokebi, mudd68, and 8 others like this.
  10. 6
    Some people were not brought up with a strong work ethic. There are always excuses. I've spent an entire day making sure the staffing was good, only to have someone call out. The nurses who did come to work started yelling at ME. I was there, they were there. I suggested to them that their anger should be directed at the person who had called out, not at me. Surprisingly, the person who was "sick" was well enough to come in when her co-workers called her. Halleluia!
    joanna73, TJ'sMOM, NutmeggeRN, and 3 others like this.
  11. 2
    Have any of you found that most of the call-outs are from the nurses who work on the short-term rehab. units? I have worked both short-term rehab. and long term care units, and the LTC units have been by far the best units to work as far as stress and fatigue. The patients on the rehab. units are much more complex and "demanding" for lack of a better word, with tx and meds. ever changing, as well as the "revolving door" issue. Whereas the LTC units are pretty much always the same.
    Bella'sMyBaby and TJ'sMOM like this.
  12. 7
    Quote from LTCNS
    Have any of you found that most of the call-outs are from the nurses who work on the short-term rehab. units? I have worked both short-term rehab. and long term care units, and the LTC units have been by far the best units to work as far as stress and fatigue. The patients on the rehab. units are much more complex and "demanding" for lack of a better word, with tx and meds. ever changing, as well as the "revolving door" issue. Whereas the LTC units are pretty much always the same.
    I loved working with the long-term care residents. The long-term care units where I've worked have been low-stress and somewhat enjoyable.

    The short-term skilled rehab units, on the other hand, are taking sicker patients than ever. It can negatively rock the world of even the most seasoned nurse. My short-term LTC patients would consist of laminectomies, s/p CABGs, CVAs, knee and hip arthroplasties, colectomies, fresh trachs, the occasional hysterectomy, recent amputations, laryngectomies, craniotomies, and many more interesting types of surgical cases. We would receive them two to three days postoperatively.

    The acuity and patient loads of the skilled rehab wings drove me insane. I now work at a freestanding rehab hospital, and the patient acuity is the exact same as what I cared for in the short-term rehab wings of the local nursing homes. However, my patient load is now between 7 to 10 at the hospital. At the nursing home, I could be caring for up to 34 post-surgical residents who were extremely demanding.
    FLArn, Bella'sMyBaby, texaslvn12, and 4 others like this.


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