Not all nurses live in areas where the weather is consistently mild, and that means driving can sometimes be hazardous. Nurses are needed 24-7-365 though.
Snow, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters can pose a clear and present danger to those who venture out to get to work. Is it ethical for a nurse to call off because the weather conditions are bad?
As with many things in nursing, there are differing opinions as to what is acceptable when calling off. Some say you should always show up, but some say they will not risk their lives for their jobs.
Of course, the best answer probably lies somewhere in the middle.
Yes, a nurse should call off when weather conditions are bad. Why should someone risk their lives in dangerous conditions for their job?
When you become a nurse, does that mean you are taking on the responsibility of always being there, regardless of how much danger it puts you in? In some parts of the country, a big snowfall means that no one is allowed on the road.
Although other nurses need to be relieved, this is a personal decision, and there is no harm in saying that you won’t take the risk for your job, your coworkers, or your patients. Extremely dangerous situations are a no-go for many nurses.
Is this the right way to think? Some nurses would disagree.
No, a nurse should not call off for dangerous conditions. Nurses have a responsibility to their patients, and getting through bad conditions is part of the job.
Most bad weather isn’t that extreme anyway. Hurricanes can be overcome if you are careful and take the right precautions.
Blizzards are easy to drive through if you are careful and go slowly. There is no reason whatsoever that a nurse should call off due to bad weather.
It is not fair to your coworkers who managed to make it into work, and it isn’t safe for your patients who have no choice but to be there. Bad weather isn’t a good excuse for calling off, and a nurse needs to accept that a certain amount of responsibility comes with being someone who is relied upon for the care of others.
Extremism isn’t sane in any situation, and this is one of those cases. Obviously, if there is a whiteout, you shouldn’t attempt to drive into work.
So, don’t put yourself in extreme danger to get to work, because safety is really the most important thing, even for nurses. The problem arises when you try to determine what safe conditions are.
How many inches of snow need to fall before it is unsafe? How strong should the wind be before you call off from work?
Some nurses will go into work no matter what, and some will call off for a snowflake. In the end, it is the nurse’s decision, and they should not be blamed for their call on the safety of their journey.
Like most reasons for calling off, bad weather can make nurses crazy when they have to work short. Understanding, as in most cases, is better than gossip and bitterness.