Calling in Sick as a Travel Nurse: What to Do
Calling in Sick as a Travel Nurse: What to Do - Travel Nurse Source Blog

Calling in Sick as a Travel Nurse: What to Do

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Nurse looking stressed

As a travel nurse, your schedule is often unpredictable and demanding. Balancing the needs of patients, colleagues, and your own well-being can be challenging, especially when calling in sick.

On the one hand, you want to take care of your health and prevent the spread of illness to others. On the other hand, you may feel guilty for missing work or leaving your unit short-staffed.

In this blog post, we’ll explore best practices for taking sick leave, including effective communication with your travel nurse agency and facility, strategies for dealing with denied sick time, and tips for preventing illness in the first place.

By prioritizing your health and well-being, you can ensure that you provide the best possible care to your patients and set yourself up for long-term success in the travel nursing industry.

Prioritize Your Well-Being

Sick person sitting on couch and blowing their nose

As a travel nurse, you must provide the best possible care to your patients. However, unforeseen circumstances can lead you to feel under the weather, and it’s essential to prioritize your health and well-being first.

Trying to push through your sickness and go to work puts yourself at risk, as well as your patients and colleagues. Taking care of yourself when you’re sick ultimately protects everyone around you from extra danger.

Stay Home and Rest

First and foremost, if you’re feeling ill, it’s important to stay home and rest, even if t means missing shifts. While it may feel like you’re letting down your team or letting your patients down, the truth is that coming in to work sick can do more harm than good.

Not only are you putting your health at risk, but you’re also increasing the risk of infection for those around you. This is especially true for vulnerable populations, such as elderly patients or those with compromised immune systems.

Ultimately, taking care of yourself when you’re sick is not only the responsible thing to do, but it’s also the best thing for your patients.

By prioritizing your health and well-being, you’re ensuring that you can provide the best possible care to your patients when you’re feeling your best. So don’t be afraid to take a few days off and rest up – your patients will thank you.

Communicate With Your Agency and Healthcare Facility

Sick person laying down and calling someone

Notifying your travel nursing agency and healthcare facility is crucial when you miss shifts as a travel nurse. Doing so ensures that everyone is aware of your absence and can make arrangements to ensure patient care is not compromised.

By notifying your agency of your sick leave, you’re providing them with important information about your availability, which can help them manage schedules, update your attendance record, and avoid potential conflicts.

Similarly, giving your healthcare facility as much notice as possible allows them to make necessary staffing adjustments and ensure that patient needs are still being met.

In some cases, failing to notify either party of your sick leave could result in negative consequences, such as lost income or legal action.

Effective communication is key when taking sick days as a travel nurse, and by notifying your staffing agency and healthcare facility, you can ensure that the process is smooth and respectful for everyone involved.

How to Effectively Communicate When Calling in Sick

Open and honest communication is critical when taking sick days to maintain professionalism and ensure patient care is not compromised. Here are some tips for effective communication when taking sick leave:

  • Notify your agency or supervisor immediately so they have time to fill your missed shifts with other employees at the same hospital. Call the agency on-call line if it is after hours.
  • Follow proper protocol and provide all necessary information, such as the reason for your absence and when you expect to return to work.
  • Practice appropriate call-off conduct. Be respectful and professional, even if you’re feeling unwell or frustrated.
  • Keep the lines of communication open and be responsive to any follow-up questions or concerns.
  • Provide updates as needed, such as if your condition worsens, or you need additional time off your contracted hours.
  • Remember that the hospital hired you to care for patients, so maintaining your commitment to patient safety is not bad.
  • Express gratitude and appreciation for any support or accommodations provided by your staffing agency or healthcare facility.

Dealing with Denial of Sick Time

Sick woman sitting in bed

Unfortunately, some healthcare facilities may deny travel nurses the ability to take sick time. This can put you in a difficult position, as you may feel like you have no choice but to come to work even when you feel unwell.

In some cases, this may be due to a lack of understanding about travel nursing contracts, which may differ from traditional employment agreements.

You must be aware of your contractual rights and advocate for yourself if you feel like those rights are being violated.

This may involve speaking with your agency or HR representative or seeking legal advice.

Ultimately, healthcare facilities need to recognize the importance of allowing travel nurses to take sick time when needed, not only for the health and safety of the nurses themselves but also for the well-being of their patients.

How to Advocate for Yourself

Travel nurses must advocate for themselves if they feel like their contractual rights are being violated by a healthcare facility.

If a nurse is denied sick time, it can not only negatively impact their health and well-being but also compromise the quality of care that patients receive.

Take a look at the following strategies for advocating for yourself.

Know your Rights

Review your contract carefully to understand what rights you are entitled to and be able to recognize when further legal action may need to be pursued. Check if your state requires that your hospital give you paid sick leave.


Talking to your HR representative or agency contact can help to clarify any misunderstandings your healthcare facility may have with your contractual obligations.

Obtain Documentation

Providing documentation like a doctor’s note to support your need for sick time can help to increase your credibility and submit your need for sick time in writing.

Demonstrate Your Commitment To Your Job

Having written documentation of your commitment to your job can help you with missing shifts. Keep track of your attendance record, and be sure you can account for any missing hours.

Legal Resources

If you believe that your contractual rights have been violated and want to pursue legal action, there are several resources you can access for support and guidance. These may include:

You must understand your contractual rights and seek legal advice if you feel like those rights have been violated.

By taking action and advocating for yourself, you can help ensure that you can provide the best possible care to your patients while also protecting your own health and well-being.

Keeping Yourself Healthy

washing hands

Preventing illness is critical for travel nurses to perform their job duties effectively and safely.

By maintaining good health and minimizing exposure to germs, travel nurses can reduce their risk of getting sick and avoid needing to take time off work.

Some strategies for preventing illness include:

  • Wash hands frequently and practice good hygiene
  • Get vaccinated against common conditions and diseases
  • Eat a healthy diet and get enough rest
  • Manage stress levels and practice self-care
  • Avoid prolonged close contact with people who are sick
  • Wear personal protective equipment when appropriate

By prioritizing preventative measures and staying on top of their physical and mental health needs, travel nurses can minimize their risk of getting sick and ensure they can provide the best possible care to their patients. Additionally, by setting a good example for colleagues and patients, travel nurses can help promote a culture of health and wellness within healthcare facilities.

Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Sick Day

Sick woman laying in bed

Calling in sick as a travel nurse can be a difficult decision. Still, by following best practices for communication and advocating for yourself when necessary, you can ensure the process is smooth and respectful.

Additionally, by taking preventive measures to stay healthy and prioritizing self-care, you can minimize your risk of getting sick and help ensure that you have the resources to continue providing quality care to your patients.

Ultimately, calling in sick is part of being a responsible and conscientious travel nurse, so don’t be afraid to take a sick day when needed.

With these tips and best practices in mind, you can successfully navigate the process and help ensure you and your patients remain safe and healthy.

Author: Carly Miller

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