Getting sick when you are a nurse is almost inevitable at some point. Caring for ill patients is the nature of the job, and while there are things you can do to decrease your chances, acquiring the occasional bug still happens.
So what’s the protocol for a nurse when you are sick? If you are a permanent nurse, having your shift covered usually is relatively easy considering you know the staff and nurse managers well. However, what happens if you get sick in the middle of your new 13-week travel assignment?
Sometimes the answer is not completely definite; it really depends on the hospital. This facility is counting on you to fill their need, that’s why you are there. It makes it hard for them to function properly if you are out sick on your already short assignment. However, most are somewhat lenient and understand that this happens.
If you are sick, the first step you should take is to contact the hospital and then your recruiter immediately after. Unfortunately, since you are an hourly employee, you are not paid for your time off. Sometimes the facility may offer a chance to make up your shifts, but it’s not guaranteed. Missing a few days is usually not a huge concern, but if it turns into a week or a more extended time, your contract will most likely be cancelled. The hospital contracted a travel nurse because they needed someone to work, and if you can’t do that, they will need to find a replacement.
If your contract is cancelled, don’t think your travel nursing career is over. Your situation and illness should not limit the working relationship between you and the agency. Once a traveler is cleared for work again, the agency should be busy finding a new assignment. However, to maintain a good travel nurse reputation, be sure that taking time off is not a common occurrence.