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Lives of Doctor Wives: Sick days

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sick days

Emailed question to discuss.

"My husband and I had a discussion today about sick days. Most normal companies and jobs give you time off when you are sick. Why doesn't residency? He says that other residents and the attendings look down on you if you take sick days unless you are actively vomiting at the hospital. I say it is ridiculous to expect sick residents to be around people who are already sick or contaminating people who aren't. Is this normal in residency? Thanks for the input!"

So, everyone, what is it like where your DrH works?



Blogger Beth Hollenbeck said...

Actually, they are supportive where we are. In fact, our entire family had a nasty virus last week and my husband asked to leave early one day (before noon). Another resident quickly took over and DrH headed home to heal. I have known of some leaving with a migraine among other ailments. However, I have also heard a story of one surgeon hooked to an IV bag while doing surgery because of a GI illness. I think residents are expected to have a superhuman work ethic. But, I also think if they work hard and as a team then they help one another in times of need. At least that is the mindset here...Sadly, I am sure there are programs out there that expect ridiculous things like residents to work when they are sick :(

June 1, 2010 at 8:21 PM  
Blogger Sybil said...

When my husband was in residency, the residents were really looked down on if they took sick time. If a "jeopardy" person had to be called in to take over your shift (most always), you had to "payback" the time by giving that person one of your days off (you only got 4 days per month off) and working a day for them. There were no sick days. That was on floor months - if you were on an elective month, you could get away with taking a half day. I have no idea why they are expected to be 'superhuman' - they are around more sickness than any average person. Just in case you are wondering - he attended St Louis University for pediatrics 2006-09.

June 1, 2010 at 10:14 PM  
Blogger Mèimei's little Designs said...

They typically work when they are sick here. If they're really sick, they'll ask to go home or to not come in, but that rarely happens. From my observations, it seems like it's less about the attendings and more about the residents not wanting to leave each other hanging. They cover each other when it's really necessary but that doesn't happen too often. There were 2 female residents who were pregnant and operated and took call up until they delivered [one of them went past her due date].

I personally think there are just some professions where it really hurts the staff as well as the people depending on you [patients, clients, students] when you call in sick. When I worked as a counselor, we were not allowed to call in sick without at least 24 hour notice. We were expected to come in for our shifts [which we were mandated by state law to keep certain ratios] and the supervisors usually worked hard to get us back home within 2-4 hours into our shift. I have had to go in and sit with a barf bucket for 3 hours until my replacement was found.

My MIL is a picu nurse manager and it really kills their unit when nurses call in sick, especially if they have the ecmo machine in use. Sometimes just having the numbers matter, even if those people are useless and sitting down somewhere. I feel this way, Every job has it's sacrifices and obligations, even if they're ridiculous. You knew about the possibility when you signed the contract. That's just me, but I grew up with a single mother who worked 6.5 days a week, double shifts 6 days a week, as a waitress, well or sick.

June 2, 2010 at 12:29 AM  
Blogger Elissa said...

There are NO sick days in the surgery program my hubby is in. If you are vomiting, diarrhea, or whatever you have to go to the ER to get IV fluids or get evaluated, or get pain medication. Crazy, hu! I guess they figure you can get healed up at work and when you are semi-better you can get your self back to work. I don't think there is much slack in the surgery world.

June 2, 2010 at 7:08 AM  
Blogger Beth Hollenbeck said...

Just wanted to add...my husband in an ortho resident at a community program. They have sick days (can't remember how many) along with vacation days. Surgery programs are extremely demanding, but maybe the community program has a different approach? I don't know? And, of course, DrH is never here to ask :)

June 2, 2010 at 8:08 AM  
Blogger Melisa said...

I can understand that they'd want the residents there no matter what, but my concern is having sick people in the OR or around people who are sick already. Seems counterintuitive. Don't they know that is how illness spreads??

June 2, 2010 at 8:11 AM  
Blogger Adriana said...

Hub's program technically has 5 sick days a year. However it all depends on the rotation of the month. Floor rotations and Gyn Onc you practically have to be on your deathbed to call in sick and even then you go in and try to make it through the day. This was a really hard adjustment to get used to when residency first started but now it's just how it is.

June 2, 2010 at 8:57 AM  
Blogger TheFamousStacie said...

Melissa - That's what the mask is for, doncha-no!
Chad has never, Never, NEVER taken a sick day. He would drag him self from his death bed, rather than call in sick. His sick days have been a waste.
Now he HAS been sent home. They have had enough compassion on the patients to send Chad home when he has come in obviously very sick and very contagious.

June 2, 2010 at 9:00 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

June 2, 2010 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger Rachel and Jason said...

When my husband was in residency, nobody took sick days. I worked at that hospital and saw residents wheeling themselves around the hospital in wheelchairs and other devices after severe skiing injuries because they were too afraid to ask for some time off. My husband used a sick day once but he spent it at the ER. If he has a cold, he usually spends it in surgery, with his nose dripping behind his mask. Gross.
His fellowship seems to be a tiny bit more lenient, but he now seems conditioned that you don't take sick days unless you are on the verge of death.
I remember thinking if I were to ever need surgery, I would probably have to specifically request to keep sick doctors out of the operating room.

June 2, 2010 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

My Fiancé is a Peds Resident. I asked him and he doesn't even know how many (or if any) "sick days" he has. He would never never never take a day. Twice this year I thought he was close to dieing with the flu and he still went to work. Got some IVs & Meds and kept going. I know they have a Pull Call system where someone is scheduled to be On Call in case of sickness but the culture is very anti-sick days.

June 2, 2010 at 10:55 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

my husband has had several times where he has been incredibly sick {vomiting, fever, chills, etc.} but he went to work anyway. i think that he technically could call in... but he never would. he would literally have to be dead not to go in. he's in a community ortho program. i think it is silly, but then again, i don't always really "get" it... as he points out time and again!!

June 3, 2010 at 1:23 AM  
Blogger Mark Browne said...

Most residencies have PTO time that can be used for illness, vacation, personal time, etc.. As a practicing physician I followed one simple rule - If I was sicker than my patients, I stayed home. It may seem like a badge of honor to go in sick, but no patient wants to see a sick doctor. Trust me the hospital will not close if he/she does not show up for a day. Some programs may frown on this, but this is not real life.

-Mark (Wingspouse's husband)

June 4, 2010 at 12:01 AM  
Blogger Joz1234 said...

Our program is very understanding. If my husband is sick, he takes a sick day. No repercussions. They'd rather he be healthy than get someone else sick.

June 4, 2010 at 5:10 PM  
Blogger Shana said...

DrH, now almost a 2nd year Fellow, has never ever taken a sick day and once even logged into the hospital's database to check on his patients while he was admitted to the ER (on his day off, of course).

June 10, 2010 at 1:42 PM  

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