What To Do If You Get Sick While on Assignment

No one plans on getting sick, and viruses sure do have a knack for attacking at the most inopportune times. When you are on a travel assignment as a travel nurse, travel CNA or other healthcare professional, you are no exception, especially if you are working in a new environment around potential illness. Since travel assignments are typically scheduled for a few months at a time, it is certainly not ideal to have to call off and leave the team without your help. Not to mention that it’s no comfort to be sick at all, let alone in an unfamiliar city. So, what do you do if you get sick while on assignment? It’s always best to be ready for every situation, so we’ve gathered some tips below to help you prepare and know what to do in case illness strikes.

Have An Emergency Contact List
You can never be over-prepared. Especially when it comes to ensuring that your work assignment goes smoothly. Notifying everyone that you need to when you are not feeling well and are unable to work, is not only responsible but will also alleviate any unnecessary stress. Also, make sure you have emergency contact numbers ready. This includes family members as well as your on-site supervisor, your recruiter and staffing firm, and your doctor.

Know Where the Nearest Pharmacy, Urgent Care and Hospital Are Located
A new city or town is just that -- new! Be sure to have an understanding of where help is located if you ever need it. That includes finding out the locations of the nearest pharmacy or walk-in clinic, urgent care, or emergency room. Program the addresses and phone numbers into your phone so you can contact them or book an appointment easily.

Notify Your Contacts Immediately

As soon as you notice that you are not feeling well, communication is key. Notify your assignment supervisor when you plan on not being at work as expected. Additionally, the organization where you’re working may need to implement infectious disease protocols right away if it’s determined that there may be an outbreak of illness that could affect vulnerable patients. So, contacting your supervisor right away is critical.

Have a List of Your Medications Ready
If you need to see a doctor while away from home, it's a great idea to come prepared with a list of your current medications -- this includes prescriptions, over-the-counter medications that you take, and any vitamins and supplements. They will need to know how to best treat you and what methods of treatment might interact with what medications you are currently taking. When you are not feeling well, it's is best to have your medications and dosages written down so you can hand them to the doctor instead of trying to remember each one.

Keep Your Recruiter Updated
Since work assignments are temporary in nature, it's not always best to have to call off work multiple days in a row. However, depending on your symptoms (fever, vomiting, etc.), sometimes it's not possible to avoid calling out of work. Make sure to stay in contact with your on-site supervisor and your recruiter to keep them updated on your progress, and if you're starting to feel better or worse. They will need to work to cover your shift(s) and need to know as soon as possible when they should reach out to other team members to come in to work on your behalf.

Make Healthy Food Choices
One of the best ways to ward off illness or to recover quickly when you get sick is to eat healthy meals. Planning your meals while on assignment is a good way to ensure you don’t get overwhelmed after a long shift and end up in the drive-thru line. This will help you stay healthy to begin with and can help your body be prepared to fight off any illness quicker if you do get sick.

Get Plenty of Rest
Be sure to get enough sleep. According to sleep.org, “Even relatively short bouts of insufficient sleep can decrease your immune response. Insufficient sleep may even reduce the immunity gained from some vaccinations.” When you get plenty of sleep, you not only help ward off illness, but you will also feel better, too! Want to learn what to do to get better sleep? Read our Sleep Tips for Travel Nurses article.

As a healthcare provider, you are always taking care of others so be sure to follow these tips when heading on a new travel assignment so you can take care of yourself.

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