4 Things to Consider When Determining If You’re Sick Enough to Stay Home

woman that is sick enough to stay homeThere is a stigma attached to staying home sick from work that all employees are aware of. There is always a choice to be made. Should I call in sick? Can I just tough it out? Can I afford to call in? Will we be short staffed if I’m out? Healthcare professionals struggle with these same questions that go along with deciding if you are too sick to go to work. Here are a few suggestions to consider when deciding if you are truly too sick to go to work.

Ask yourself the question, “Am I contagious?” Physicians recommend staying home at the first sign of the illness, as that is when you are most contagious. You may feel worse in the following days of the sickness, however, you become less contagious as time goes on.

The next thing to consider is if your workplace is “sick friendly.” For most healthcare professionals, the answer to this question is no. In the healthcare field, you often do not have the freedom to take care of yourself during a shift if you are under the weather. Along with that, you need to consider the demographic of people that will be exposed to your illness. People with weakened immune systems, young children and the elderly are just a few examples of why your workplace may not be as “sick friendly” as it is for other people that work in a different occupation.


People with weakened immune systems, young children and the elderly are just a few examples of why your workplace may not be as “sick friendly” as it is for other people that work in a different occupation.


There are many healthcare professionals that are well-aware of these first two questions but often fail to consider this next one. Once a person is diagnosed and sent to get a prescription, they often feel well enough to return to work. It is important to evaluate if the medication you are on will interfere with your job. Is it going to cause you to be less productive, or will you be unable to perform duties that others are counting on you for?

Lastly, there are always the legalities of calling off for a shift. This can especially be true in healthcare, where a proper staff to patient ratio is needed. Remember that the policies in place are meant to help both the worker and the patient. Know what your company offers you in terms of sick time and do not hesitate to use it out of guilt or fear.  Also, it is good practice to go above and beyond what is expected for notice. If you are truly not feeling well, make the decision to call in well in advance. This gives your employer ample time to find someone to fill in if needed. It is always better to give more notice. If the doctor recommends you stay home for 2-4 days, be sure to be transparent with your employer. It is easier to call and say you are able to come in after all.

Making a wise decision on whether you are sick enough to stay home or not can be difficult. Some people feel the need to push through and tough out being under the weather. Be sure that you consider the effects of coming to your specific job in these conditions. Healthcare professionals have a higher risk of coming into work sick. Use sound judgment and evaluate all who will be affected when you are sick at work.


Questions to ask when determining if you’re sick enough to stay home:

  1. Am I contagious?
  2. Is my workplace “sick friendly?”
  3. What are the side effects of the medications I’ve been prescribed?
  4. What are the legal implications of calling out of work?