Working while ill during COVID-19: Ethics, guilt, and moral community

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleen is a 5-year veteran critical care nurse working in a busy intensive care unit that has been filled to capacity with patients with suspected and confirmed COVID-19. She has diligently followed infection-control guidelines inside and outside the workplace. She has responded to pleas from her nurse manager to (1) cover additional shifts, (2) take on additional responsibilities, and (3) orient traveling and less experienced nurses to care for high-acuity patients with COVID-19 and/or related complications. Although she has supportive family and friends, she is physically, psychologically, and morally exhausted by the weight of the pandemic. Over the past 24 hours, she has felt more fatigued than usual despite additional sleep, has a worsening sore throat and dry cough, and feels febrile. She has tried all the usual remedies, but her symptoms have worsened. She is scheduled to work the night shift beginning at 7:00 PM. She wonders if she should call out ill or go to work, despite the risk she may be infected with COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)356-361
Number of pages6
JournalAACN advanced critical care
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care
  • Emergency Medicine


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