Travel Nursing: Getting Sick On Assignment

How To Guide

We know you specialize in taking care of others, but your health matters too! Missing work due to these unpleasant surprises is inevitable. Worried about what you will need to do if you find yourself sick while on assignment? Take a walk through our list of essential “to-do’s” that will help you make the most out of this nurse’s nightmare. 

Before we rattle off this checklist, here are some pieces of information to keep in mind: 

  • Just like any other employee, travel nurses can call in sick. 
  • Every hospital is different in terms of protocol. 
  • It is always a good idea to be prepared. 

Now, here are a few things that you can do in advance to ensure you are prepared.

Preparation Steps

#1 Emergency Contacts 

It is important to know who to call if you aren’t feeling well. Communication with these individuals as fast as possible is vital. This should include loved ones, but also any sort of supervisor or floor manager at your scheduled worksite, as well as your main point of contact with the agency you are working with (usually, this is your recruiter). Keep these numbers somewhere safe and easy to access! 

#2 Familiarize Yourself With Medical Centers

It is a good idea to know the locations of…

  • Local Pharmacy 
  • Urgent Care 
  • Hospitals 

Knowing these in advance will be helpful for a speedy and effective recovery. 

#3 Medications 

To even further advance your recovery process, it is productive to come prepared with a list of medications that you have taken before, are allergic to, etc. 

Now that you have fully prepared in advance, the rest is fairly simple.

Credit: The Mirror

When You Begin To Feel Sick


First things first, COMMUNICATE! This is where your emergency contact list will come in handy. Check in with your agency and worksite supervisor to see what proper protocol is for times like these. If you’re unsure about your options or what steps to take to be certain that you’re responsibly taking time off, ask your recruiter for help. Here are some things to consider precedent to and when you are making these calls:

  • Does my contract specify procedures for calling off sick?
  • How many shifts can I miss during this assignment?
  • Are there penalties for calling off sick?

Necessary Requirements/Documentation

Depending on the agency and/or hospital, you may need to also follow up with proper documentation. For example, this may be a doctor’s note.


Your recovery here is key! Your health comes first, and you are going to want to miss the least amount of days possible. Therefore, taking steps to getting better is a priority. Evaluate your sickness to determine whether you need to see a medical professional. Then, take the appropriate steps. 

Besides this, make sure that you are…

  • Getting Rest
  • Drinking Water/Fluids
  • Eating Healthy
  • Taking Necessary Medications

While being sick is never fun, we cannot always stop it from happening. If you find yourself feeling unwell during a travel assignment, we encourage you to be prepared with an emergency plan. As always, prioritize your health! 

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