Is anyones facility so short staffed that they feel guilty calling in sick?

Nurses General Nursing



I never call in sick no matter what. Even if I were dying I would probably never call in sick (lol). I am so sick and tired of these people that call in sick because they have a hang over or just simply dont want to come to work and call in 5 minutes before the shift begins. Well I live 20 miles out of town! and If I am called into work I never refuse it. The other day I had food poisoning but I didnt call in, and I came to work, and it was my offday. It was the worst day ive had. I was throwing up non stop and I felt like I was going to die, but I stayed for the whole shift, while 2 other girls were gone with a hang over. I know what it feels like to only work a 2 hall in a place with 70 some patients. It is not safe and it can cause burn out. I don't want to get burned out, but I don't want to call in sick and leave everyone shorter staffed than we already are. hat should I do? :stone

yes, i feel guilty...even when i am so sick that i should probably be in the hospital. but i am that kind of person. i try to help everyone...for a while i would stay over 2-4 hours to help the oncoming shift because i felt so horrible about how they were staffed. i then realized that i also had to take care of myself and not always put others first. i still stay over, but not nearly as much as before. i don't think that anyone but you can answer your question about what you should do regarding this situation. good luck with whatever you decide!


11 Posts

I feel the same, I only have time off if I really need it but one or two of those times was because too tired, I had been working 14 hour shifts and working on my days off and it all took it's toll. We are nurses not martyrs, and nursing should not be the most important thing in your life, (if it is you need to get a life!, sorry)

If you're ill, take the time off, we are entitled to some sick leave, and you will only make things worse in the long run. And you shouldn't worry too much about leaving the ward short, isn't that what agency nurses are for?!!:)


837 Posts

How do you stack taking a potentially deadly infection into an area where people are already sick and debilitated, against being punctual? If you are sick, you should not be there, because you could kill someone. Inform your manager in due time, and staffing cover is their problem, never yours.

Despite being initially irresponsible in getting a hangover, on balance it is safer for the patients to call in sick, and avoid the possible errors which can be made if not operating at 100%.


SharonH, RN

2,144 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg, Geriatrics.

Um, no I never feel guilty. If I call in sick, it's because I am sick. I have a responsibility to maintain my own good health and I can't do that if I pile work stress on top of any illness I may have. Not only that if I have an illness which could be potentially infectious, i.e. a stomach virus or respiratory illness and I passed that illness on to one of my patients who are already immunocompromised because of their hospitalization and they were either made sicker or God forbid, died, then I really would feel guilty.

I don't worry about other people's call outs either. That's not my job to worry about who calls out for a legitimate reason. Furthermore, it is not my personal responsibility to ensure safe and adequate staffing for my hospital, it's their responsiblity.


646 Posts

I call off when ill. no questions. It happens about once or twice every 1-5 no I do not feel guilty in the least. Why would you risk spreading illness to pts who are already struggling to maintain health anyway? :confused:

I'm with Mr Murray on this one....


172 Posts

Specializes in learning disabilities/midwifery.

I have to agree. I work in a unit for adults with severe learning disabilities, many with several associated health problems. Not only do I phone in sick whenever I am unwell I will send staff home who turn up at work obviously ill as they are putting our clients at risk.

jnette, ASN, EMT-I

4,388 Posts

Specializes in Hemodialysis, Home Health.

Well put, Sharon....

I have been at my current place of employment 5 yrs. now and have yet to call in sick. Thank goodness, it's merely because I have never BEEN sick ! Oh, I've felt puny a time or two, or had a minor head cold here or there, but nothing to stay home about. And we don't get to GO home unless we're running a temp of 101 anyway. (technically, at least....)

But as everyone else, we are shortstaffed.. not because anyone calls in, but because we're only "allowed" x number of staff. We know that if one of us calls in, the others will really be hurting.. both staff and patitents alike. So we just don't call in. There have been numerous times we would have LOVED to, but we care for each other and our patients too much to do so.

But if you're SICK, by all means, take off and get well. You're entitled! You owe it to yourself and your patients.

Specializes in Mostly LTC, some acute and some ER,.

Well I never do go to work contagious, but if it's something like my Ulcer or food poisioning where I am just hurling my guts out, I dont call in sick, but if its something like the flu then I would stasy home, but I havnt been contagiously sick in a long time.


2,099 Posts

Specializes in Corrections, Psych, Med-Surg.

Future--You are not taking care of yourself and are headed straight for burnout, if not serious health problems sooner or later. IMHO.

If one of your patients had similar problems and they went to work anyway, what would you tell them? Fine? Ignore your health? I hope you are a better nurse than that.

The crux of the matter is the simple fact that staffing is NOT your problem and will not be until you: 1) own the facility or 2) supervise its operation. This is NOT in your job description and is NOT your responsibility. Let the people who willingly took on this task, and are paid to do it, take responsibility for it.

You need to take care of yourself, because nobody else will.

bagladyrn, RN

2,286 Posts

Specializes in OB.

No I no longer feel guilty if I call in sick. I used to have that attitude, but led to big time burnout! (Posted in a thread of dreaming I was dead but still had to go in to work anyway!)

Think of it this way - if you were to break your leg and be physically unable to report for work - they are NOT going to close the facility. Realize that the facility was operating before you got there and will still be operating long after you move on.

You must take care of yourself before you can take care of others. I know that we all see co-workers who abuse the system, but this is no reason to overcompensate by going that far in the other direction.


109 Posts

never never never nursing has been short staffed for the over 25 years i have been nursing! you guys need to get real. you are people, you get sick. a hangover is not sick. sick is sick. you don't work sick. staffing has absolutely nothing to do with your being sick. if you are sick, you would not care a hoot about the staffing, because you would be sick. frankie

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