Comment

Student voice - Care begins at home

While I don’t imagine anyone in any line of work feels happy about calling in sick, I have never known anyone experience the same level of guilt about it as nurses.

While I don’t imagine anyone in any line of work feels happy about calling in sick, I have never known anyone experience the same level of guilt about it as nurses.

In the days leading up to a new placement I began to feel increasingly unwell. I kept telling myself that it would pass in time, but instead I ended up on a ten-day course of antibiotics for bacterial tonsillitis (I also got conjunctivitis, and had an allergic reaction to the drugs). This meant that on my first day of placement I had to call in sick. I was mortified, I cannot remember ever feeling so guilty simply for being ill.

I kept talking myself out of phoning in, convincing myself that by dosing up on paracetamol and ibuprofen I would make it through the ten-hour shift. But then it dawned on me: what was the point? What for? Going into placement or work when you are unwell is a terrible idea.

As a nurse you are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of sick and vulnerable children: making vital clinical decisions, drawing up medications, dressing wounds. Our patients deserve someone who is alert, not someone with a temperature who can’t concentrate.

Nurses are quick to tell parents or visitors off if they come into hospital with infectious illnesses, such as chicken pox or vomiting, but we don’t think anything of turning up to work at the same hospital, with the same immunocompromised children, with a streaming cold or nasty cough.

It is as if we use up our nursing skills and compassion on our patients and have none leftover for ourselves.

By dragging ourselves into work when sick, we are not doing anyone any favours, our colleagues, ourselves and most importantly, our patients.

I am not suggesting we start calling in sick every time we sneeze, but to help others to the best of our ability we need to start looking after ourselves.

About the author

Emma Cowen is a second-year children’s nursing student at the University of Brighton.

This article is for subscribers only

Jobs