What do you say when calling out sick?

  1. I appreciate all the feedback on my previous thread. It was eye-opening.

    Ever since my previous career and my strong work ethic, it would usually take a lot for me to call out sick. I worked at times I should have been home many times, I think to justify when I did call out, it was really serious/legit.

    I also have worked in places that feel they have a right to probe and maybe bc I had/have weak boundaries when it comes to that sort of thing I would answer in detail when they'd ask "how sick?...what are the symptoms?" etc...Maybe they have no right to ask that and they "test" in that way.

    I've never felt comfortable calling out and saying "I won't be in I'm not feeling well" or even "sick" esp if you don't sound that sick! That's why when I do, I do usually sound horrible.

    Even personal days, I feel like I needed to say why I needed a personal day but that defies the definition doesn't it?! But when the supposed caring i.e. nosy coworkers ask if everything is okay when I come back, then I feel (and have actually been told by one) that I'm snubbing them if I say "everything's fine" even if I add "thanks for asking"

    You can probably tell I'm that way from my length of posts and need to be clear

    So teach me Oh wise ones What do you all say? I have great boundaries in my personal life, I have no idea why I won't enforce them in this situation.

    Last edit by Brian S. on Sep 6, '18
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  3. by   Baubo516
    Just curious -

    If you are working as an RN in either a hospital or a LTC facility, what happens if you are sick (I mean short term - like you have a fever for a few days) and need to miss work. Who do you call, and do you have to arrange for your replacement? Does management give you a hard time about it?

    I am currently a teacher, and if I am sick I have to make a detailed sub plan so that someone else can cover for me that day. That takes 1-2 hours to do. If I know ahead of time that I have to be gone, this is easy to do, but if I wake up with a fever (as I did yesterday) it is a major pain. The administrative assistant I have to call into always makes me feel like a criminal for being sick. I am just wondering if this is the reality in nursing, as well.

    I am not talking about long term disability, or missing work too often....

    Thanks for any replies as I am curious about how this works in other professions.
  4. by   Baubo516
    Oh yes - it takes 3 keys and key card to get out to my classroom, and the school does not have duplicates for the sub. So, I also have to work out how to get my keys out there.
  5. by   MouseMichelle
    it's not unusual in this profession to have your nurse manager not believe you are sick which is why I always get a sick note from my MD
  6. by   caliotter3
    Quote from Baubo516
    Oh yes - it takes 3 keys and key card to get out to my classroom, and the school does not have duplicates for the sub. So, I also have to work out how to get my keys out there.
    Sounds as if your employers deliberately make it unpleasant to call in sick. There is such a thing as duplicate keys that have to be available for emergencies. Wonder where those are kept? Most employers try to find a replacement for a sick nurse, but some try to be nasty and tell people that they have to find their own replacement. We were having lots of absences and retention problems one time so the new administrator, who was a big mean bear of a woman, said that call offs were to be told they had to call her at home. Then, all she did was to put the onus back on the floor nurse on duty by saying the sick person had to come to the building and have their vital signs taken by the on duty nurse. This type of rule is typical of a poor place to work. It is the exception, not the rule. All places have a set time frame, usually two or four hours, so they can attempt to find a replacement.
  7. by   AwayWeGo
    The hospital units where I have worked require you to call the unit and speak with the charge nurse as far in advance as possible. It's not ok to call in sick 30 minutes before you are supposed to be there...rude and unprofessional. The nurses that work on your shift will pick up your patient load or if the census is high and there is an on-call person, the charge nurse will call the on-call person scheduled for that particular shift to come in and work. Hope this helps.
  8. by   Southern Fried RN
    I work in a very small, specialized department. We only have a few full-time people and even less PRNs. Our NM expects us to be "dependable" which means come to work when you are sick and if you can't then make calls begging the other FT people to come in on their days off. "Dependable" to me means you don't get falling down drunk and call out due to hangover, or when you have a mild cold that Sudafed, etc can be taken. However, some of my other co-workers come to work febrile or even with N/V/D! If I have that I will call out, and I have to call out occasionally when Grandma can't watch my sick kid.

    Also our NM expects to find people to cover our vacations. So if you can't find someone to cover all your shifts....guess what? Vacation is cancelled. I'm not even sure this is in accordance with hospital policy. It's ridiculous because some people can't/don't want to work extra to cover and then it causes tension in the work environment.
  9. by   NPvampire
    Depends on the facility. My last job you could call out a certain number of times in one year, more times with notice than without. If you went above that, you better have medical documentation and probably a lawyer to fight it or you will be insto-terminated. But you don't find your own replacement, that's the manager's problem.

    A smaller facility I worked for would threaten and bark on the phone until employees came to work deathly sick. I came in with the flu once because it was that or literally lose my job. This was before the swine flu, and I think they've backed off a little since then. But threats of termination is no way to run a business.
  10. by   AKav8trix
    Wow, I guess I've been pretty lucky in the places I've worked so far as a nurse. I've never had any trouble if I called in sick (a rare occurrence). Most of the time I was required to call the charge nurse and the staffing office. The policy was usually to call at least 3-4 hours before shift start, to give staffing a chance to find a replacement so they would not have to call in the on-call nurse at time-and-a-half.
  11. by   canesdukegirl
    Where I work, calling in sick is equivalent to committing a crime. Although the bosses are not supposed to talk about the staff who call in sick, the reality is that they tear them up one side and down the other. It doesn't matter who it is-or how often/how rarely they call in.

    It is a sad state of affairs for a nurse to feel awful physically and then feel awful mentally because management lays on the guilt trip nice and thick. It is even more obscene when the MANAGER calls in sick because they "didn't sleep well". Seriously?

    Policy states that nurses must call in AT LEAST two hours before their shift starts. Most of our nurses abide by this, and the ones that don't are not held accountable for it. We have the frequent call out people...and they are still employed for some reason. We have those on FMLA, and some managers berate these employees behind their backs, but the staff do not. We just want these staff members to get better.

    It would be nice if our managers were more understanding of those that must call in sick because they ARE SICK! As health care professionals, you would think that managers would be MORE empathetic, but it seems as if it is just the opposite. So the staff are relegated to come in sick anyway because they KNOW there will be backlash (mental, not disciplinary). Sad. Very sad.
  12. by   locolorenzo22
    our policy is two hours, although the day shift often calls at 4am a hour before change, which makes it tougher to get someone in. Nites there usually isn't a problem with the timing of call-offs. We can get pull nurses from all over the hospital, if the other floors have a available one, sometimes we don't and you have to suck it up and deal with it.
  13. by   RNperdiem
    My hospital is a large teaching hospital with several float pools that can staff various areas.
    Nurses can call out sick, but it has to be 2 or more hours before the start of shift.
    A float nurse can be brought in, or regular staff might get called asking if they want to work extra.
    As a last resort, an assistant nurse manager might come in to fill the staffing hole.
    Somehow we always manage to get the unit fully staffed.
  14. by   General E. Speaking, RN
    I have been at my hospital for 10+ yrs. I just handed my supervisor a doctor's note excusing me til Monday (was scheduled tomorrow and Friday). I am worried. Although, I do not have repeated call-ins. I was out last month for a funeral when my 59 yo uncle died suddenly of a massive MI. Last Thurs I was off to attend the funeral of my 45 yo friend of 38+ years died suddenly from flu-like symptoms.

    At my hospital, your call-in's accrue from incident to incident- meaning that at the beginning of the year, you do not get a clean slate. Even with my doctors note (horrible sinus infection, coughing, clogged, runny nose, fever) I am worried...it sucks.