“Some professions have to worry about absenteeism—employees not reporting to work. But in the medical field, researchers are calling attention again to the troublesome trend of presenteeism among health care workers and its implications.”

Medicine is a competitive field, and it’s not easy to take a day off. Would you be willing to wait for your doctor to recover from a cold before a checkup? What if you’re getting surgery? What if the doctor might have swine flu?

It’s not surprising that overworked, sleep deprived residents working in hospitals full of sick people would end up under the weather. But in competitive programs that need all hands on deck, how do you convince your future doctors (and their fellow residents who will be picking up the slack) that they should stay home?

“‘We noticed that if residents called in sick, people questioned their motives; and if they came in sick people questioned their judgment,’ Anupam Jena, a resident at Massachusetts General Hospital and coauthor of the analysis, said in a prepared statement.”

I guess the key is not to get sick. Of course, once we figure out how to do that, we’ll all be out of a job. In the meantime, may the best immune system win.

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