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COVID-19: Are Nurses Essential Employees?


Specializes in Med-Surg. Has 7 years experience.

Are nurses considered essential employees? What does that mean exactly? What would a federal lockdown look like for hospital staff? I’m wondering if I should take precautions now. I know there are a lot of rumors, but I want to be prepared. Does anyone have any feedback from previous experiences?

My employer issued field nurses a letter designating us as essential employees due to the fact that we care for critically ill patients in their homes, in clinics, or facilities. It specifically states that we may be required to commute to and from work through restricted areas.

Relatives who work at a certain retail business received similar letters due to them being necessary in keeping the business open to provide the public with emergency supplies.

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 16 years experience.

My badge states that I am an essential employee.

From New York State:


1. Essential health care operations including

research and laboratory services


walk-in-care health facilities

veterinary and animal health services

elder care

medical wholesale and distribution

home health care workers or aides

doctor and dentist offices

nursing homes, or residential health care facilities or congregate care facilities

medical supplies and equipment providers


mimibrown, ADN, BSN

Specializes in Med-Surg. Has 7 years experience.

My main question is will we get to leave after our shifts are over ? I’m concerned about being required to stay at the hospital. My anxiety is through the roof right now.

Edited by mimibrown
Wrong word

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

No one can predict the future. But it might help you feel better to prepare for the worst. Pack a bag. Make arrangements for kids and pets, etc. With any luck, you won't need to implement those measures -- but you might feel a little less stressed if you know that you are prepared to deal with it if it happens.


Has 36 years experience.

First of all. Take deep breath. You are not alone. Every one of your fellow nurses is worried, has serious to minor reasons why staying overtime at work would adversly affect them or their loved ones.

Only your charge nurse, or manager, or director of nursing can answer your questions.

Realize they, like the whole country, are trying to figure out how to manage a situation that changes every 24 hours

Trying to get a handle on this pandemic is like trying to build an airplane while it's flying! I believe everyone is doing the best they can.