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Covid-19: The Guilt of the Work From Home Nurse

Updated | Published

Specializes in case management. Has 9 years experience.

How Covid 19 is affecting my life. You are reading page 2 of Covid-19: The Guilt of the Work From Home Nurse. If you want to start from the beginning Go to First Page.

Trampledunderfoot, LPN

Specializes in Corrections, Dementia/Alzheimer's. Has 3 years experience.

On 4/9/2020 at 9:23 AM, RN0599 said:

I had been working per diem in home health when the coronavirus hit the US. I also live with my elderly mother who has history of respiratory problems. At her insistance, I stepped away from my job and have been isolating at home with my mother. I would feel just horrible if I brought this devastating virus home to my her!

This sounds like my situation. I work per diem at a prison. My mother was horrified at the COVID-19 news, she has multiple health conditions, and I left pretty much for her. It is scary. I feel guilty all the time, all my coworkers are working hard, and I sit at home, busy, but missing work a lot. But how much more guilty would I feel if something happened to my family? I hear that pandemics are horrible once they hit a prison. I don't think there could be anyway that I could avoid bringing it home if I stayed at work.

Trampledunderfoot, LPN

Specializes in Corrections, Dementia/Alzheimer's. Has 3 years experience.

23 hours ago, Info_RN said:

At the same time, I am also relieved that I’m not on the frontlines, which in turn makes me feel guilty again. It’s a constant internal struggle in my head.

I do this, but worse. I catch myself constantly checking for cases to have come up in my prison as if that justifies my leaving, as if I need something more than what's going on to justify it. Then I feel guilty because I really don't want anyone to get sick, and I pray for my coworkers and patients every day.

Does that make me an awful person? I'm trying to do what's right, why is it so hard to figure out what that is anymore?

I am so thankful for all of the front line medical staff. I cannot imagine. At the same time, I do not feel guilty for one second. I have vulnerable family members. I would have left the job if I thought I was going to be exposed. I cannot bring this virus home. Perhaps I would have made a different decision years ago, before my family obligations arrived.

Edited by zbb13

Nascar nurse, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC & Hospice. Has 35 years experience.

I have also worked from home in case management for the past year & half. Prior to that, I’ve spent 30+ years in long term care or hospice. I also asked my employer for some time off to go help my community & was denied. I too felt the guilt that I was secretly so relieved that they told me no. A sweet nurse friend reminded me I had done my time on the front lines & in the process had mentored many young nurses and aides throughout the years. She reminded me that I AM out there, it’s just not my hands doing the work but in the lessons I’ve taught. That’s helped some...but maybe added a new worry if I’ve taught them well enough to save their own lives too. 😢

To all of us who are not on the front lines, maybe we are right where we are supposed to be, right where God wants us. I worked in nursing homes for five years, then I got a job in benefits administration for two and a half years. My father got sick and I left that job, a really good job, to take care of him. He was a war veteran, so the VA paid me to take care of him. It wasn't much money, but we got by. I did this for 8 years, until he passed away on January 3, of this year. During this time the arthritis in both my knees and right hip worsened. I could not stand up for an hour now, let alone a full shift. I am still grieving and I believe I am in depression. Then this virus hit! Thankfully, God led my family and I to a house in the country, with neighbours few and far between. Our old house in town would have been terrible during all this. I truly believe that God has his hand on all of us. He putting us where we are for a reason. You just have to have faith in his plan. The reason will be revealed at a later time.

maybug, ADN, BSN, RN

Specializes in case management. Has 9 years experience.

On 4/10/2020 at 9:37 PM, Info_RN said:

I found myself coming to this site tonight hoping to find an article just like this one. I left bedside nursing 4 years ago to become an informatics nurse where I get to work from home everyday in my pjs. Ever since the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in my state, I have felt guilty on a daily basis for not working on the frontlines. At the same time, I am also relieved that I’m not on the frontlines, which in turn makes me feel guilty again. It’s a constant internal struggle in my head. Do I leave my current position and volunteer to go back to the bedside, where I would, admittedly, be in way over my head. Or do I keep my current job where I can stay safe at home, when so many of my fellow nurses don’t have that option. Deep down, I know the work I do is helping other nurses who actually are on the frontlines. I just wanted to thank you for writing this article and expressing the same sentiment that so many of us are feeling. And thank you to the others who responded for reminding me that we don’t have to be on the frontlines to make a difference during this pandemic.

It feels good to know we are not alone in our feelings and can come together to share our thoughts.

maybug, ADN, BSN, RN

Specializes in case management. Has 9 years experience.

On 4/12/2020 at 8:55 AM, Nascar nurse said:

A sweet nurse friend reminded me I had done my time on the front lines & in the process had mentored many young nurses and aides throughout the years. She reminded me that I AM out there, it’s just not my hands doing the work but in the lessons I’ve taught. That’s helped some...but maybe added a new worry if I’ve taught them well enough to save their own lives too. 😢

WOW!! That is a great reminder and so very true. We can only be responsible for ourselves and our own decisions. Everyone (nurse) must do what is best for them.

maybug, ADN, BSN, RN

Specializes in case management. Has 9 years experience.

8 hours ago, signet said:

To all of us who are not on the front lines, maybe we are right where we are supposed to be, right where God wants us. I worked in nursing homes for five years, then I got a job in benefits administration for two and a half years. My father got sick and I left that job, a really good job, to take care of him. He was a war veteran, so the VA paid me to take care of him. It wasn't much money, but we got by. I did this for 8 years, until he passed away on January 3, of this year. During this time the arthritis in both my knees and right hip worsened. I could not stand up for an hour now, let alone a full shift. I am still grieving and I believe I am in depression. Then this virus hit! Thankfully, God led my family and I to a house in the country, with neighbours few and far between. Our old house in town would have been terrible during all this. I truly believe that God has his hand on all of us. He putting us where we are for a reason. You just have to have faith in his plan. The reason will be revealed at a later time.

I think this is a great reminder as well. First, I am so sorry for the loss of your father. This time of isolation must make that even more difficult. I hope you and your family have support you can count on, even if it's through a screen or a phone call right now. I trust that we will come out of this stronger and so much more grateful for what we have.

RN4KU

Specializes in Utilization Review. Has 11 years experience.

Thank you for sharing, I feel the exact same way as a Utilization Review nurse. If I knew my work would release me for a LOA I would likely try to find a job with a staffing agency. I have been unable to find guidance from the government if I can be released temporarily and assist with CV-19.

jpicurn

Specializes in PICU, peds, nursing instructor. Has 19 years experience.

I was super happy to read this!

I recently left hospital/bedside nursing in December 2019. I started orientation with the health department as a public health nurse, working in immunizations and TB testing. My orientation was due to finish in June 2020. Once this all hit, our clinics closed, my orientation was suspended, and I spent a panicked week worried about income loss, jobs, and what would happen. They then called us back to work phone banks, call patients, and provide some telephone guidance, and for that, I am grateful.

BUT....

There is a big huge part of my nursing soul that feels guilty every day. Every.single.day. When I hear from former coworkers, friends, and everyone I used to work with. When I see the news. When I drive to my office job and plug in my list of patients and start my day of phone calls and check in's and data. I feel like I should be doing "more" and I was always the nurse who came in early, stayed over, and worked extra.

BUT....

I am also reminded that for 20+ years, I was frontline. All the time. So my job change came at the right time for me. It's hard. I totally understand, and I miss my friends. :(

AnonymousSuper

Specializes in Supervisor. Has 9 years experience.

Get over it. It's not serving you to feel guilty about this.

This isn't a communist country. No one is holding a gun to these nurse's head forcing them to work in the hospital and be in harms way. It's not the military where that HAVE to be there.

They are choosing to be there. No gun. No communism. Freedom of choice.

So now you feel guilty for their choice?

Be happy. You're safe and healthy.

Oath for caring for others? What about your oath to yourself and your family? Doesn't that matter? Would they be happier if you took a bedside job that lacked PPE to protect you?

You were wise to get away from the bedside.

I suppose you could just go back to the bedside.

Would that make you feel better and end your guilt?

Let's have you do this.

Take a travel nursing assignment in New York City (currently >100,000 case-ish?) and let me know how your guilt is doing 12 weeks later.

Stop feeling guilty for other people's decisions. You're still helping patients just in a different way.

maybug, ADN, BSN, RN

Specializes in case management. Has 9 years experience.

1 hour ago, AnonymousSuper said:

Get over it. It's not serving you to feel guilty about this.

This isn't a communist country. No one is holding a gun to these nurse's head forcing them to work in the hospital and be in harms way. It's not the military where that HAVE to be there.

They are choosing to be there. No gun. No communism. Freedom of choice.

So now you feel guilty for their choice?

Be happy. You're safe and healthy.

Oath for caring for others? What about your oath to yourself and your family? Doesn't that matter? Would they be happier if you took a bedside job that lacked PPE to protect you?

You were wise to get away from the bedside.

I suppose you could just go back to the bedside.

Would that make you feel better and end your guilt?

Let's have you do this.

Take a travel nursing assignment in New York City (currently >100,000 case-ish?) and let me know how your guilt is doing 12 weeks later.

Stop feeling guilty for other people's decisions. You're still helping patients just in a different way.

It’s unfortunate that I provided such a supportive comment on your article yet yours is so negative... another great example you can add to your perspective of how nursing is not worth it. Lots of nurses that are unsupportive of their teammates. I bet you are a joy to work with.

Otherwise, it appears you barely read my article or at least did not comprehend it correctly.

I work as a clinical informatics analyst and am currently working from home due to everything going on. I worked in the ICU prior to my current position. I’ve been in my current position for about 18 months. I’ve been feeling very guilty about not offering myself up to go back. I struggle with it more and more every day. The worse things get, the more I feel I need to go. On the other hand, I suffer from bad anxiety and the whole idea of going back to bedside just makes it worse. I don’t know what to do 😕

debmomto4, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in Nursing Education. Has 6 years experience.

I’m in the same position. I left bedside for a Nurse educator position in Homecare Health Almost 2 years now. I work as a nurse education manager and do orientation for nurses who come into our company and also educate existing staff on Covid-19 protocol. But feel guilty I’m not on the front lines. They are. I’m in NYC so I’ve seen the need. My company asked the 4 educatorS not to accept volunteer positions when the state asked. The company said they needed us too. But it’s tough when I see the need. When I see my nursing students being put in the front lines since I also teach clinicals on the weekend. When the hospital I still am perdiem at send out group texts saying they need coverage. But I have tried to immerse myself in my work from home and hope I am making a difference in my own way. I pray for my city and all the other cities when I see they want to open up and know it will only bring more deaths if it’s too soon.

As a research nurse, I've been feeling the same way. Then, my institution decided to prepare for the possibility of a surge by having all nurses in the institution do online module training in case they have to be called to go back fill the positions that were vacated by nurses who volunteered for the COVID-19 team. As soon as it seemed like a firm possibility, I didn't want to go anymore. Fortunately, they are not putting anyone in a role that they do not feel comfortable with, designating several levels of care for people to be assigned. Our research patients need us too, and I just try to think that I am still helping out because my patient's needs don't go away because COVID-19 exists.

maybug, ADN, BSN, RN

Specializes in case management. Has 9 years experience.

11 hours ago, citylights89 said:

As a research nurse, I've been feeling the same way. Then, my institution decided to prepare for the possibility of a surge by having all nurses in the institution do online module training in case they have to be called to go back fill the positions that were vacated by nurses who volunteered for the COVID-19 team. As soon as it seemed like a firm possibility, I didn't want to go anymore. Fortunately, they are not putting anyone in a role that they do not feel comfortable with, designating several levels of care for people to be assigned. Our research patients need us too, and I just try to think that I am still helping out because my patient's needs don't go away because COVID-19 exists.

You make a great point. I doubt there is any nurse that WANTS to put their lives at risk, and we are fortunate that our roles are not putting us in danger (so to speak). Your last sentence sums it up. We are still needed where we are.

RN0599, BSN, MSN

Specializes in Nursing Education, Psych, Med-surg. Has 22 years experience.

I totally get the guilty feelings! I stopped working March 2020 due to COVID because my 86 year old mother is living with me! She has had respiratory issues in the past and I just couldn't see being out there and possibly bringing the virus home to her!  Here it is a year later and I am back to work...now as a nurse educator. We are both vaccinated and doing well. I have no regrets over the past year, as I got to know my mother better as a friend and a roommate and not just as her daughter! 

T-Bird78

Has 6 years experience.

Heck, I just want to know if your company is hiring!  I’m not in a hospital setting but am in ambulatory care, so I’m not quite front line but maybe second line or third line LOL. I was pulled to work in the hospital for two months earlier this year so my hat’s off to those who are in direct line of fire, but I’m just over direct patient care at this point.