Back To Work After Illness

So you spent a few months recovering from recent surgery, medical illness, or an accident at home. You had used your family medical leave time, and/or short term disability. After, multiple follow up appointments, your doctor says you are ready to return to work. My question to you is….Do You Feel Ready To Go Back To Work? 

Some people feel excited to return to work because work equals income and it can help get your life back to a regular routine. However, some people may have concerns about returning. Here are  some common concerns that people often discuss in my office:

1. Will I be able to perform my regular work duties.
2. I have to deal with nosey co workers about my medical condition.
3. I have issues about my job before my disability, not sure if I want to return and deal with it again.
4. I hope my job understands that I have medical appointments to follow.

Returning to work is a major transition for many people. For those who have concerns about returning, there are some steps that should be taken in order to make a smooth transition. Here are a few steps:

1. Communicate with your doctor- Your doctor should know what your daily job duties and your work hours. Your doctor can let explain what you may have to limit for safety reasons. Ask for a note or letter for special orders. For example, one of my clients have to bring a note to HR informing that they have to wear sneakers to work till further notice.

2. Keep your life private- You are not obligated to spill your business to nosey co workers. Just politely say “I rather not discuss that, I’m just happy to return” and change the subject.

3. Communicate with your HR- You might want to do part time hours instead of full time. Perhaps you need to adjust your job description or your schedule. A few years ago, one of my co workers at my hospice job, step down from supervisor to a direct line nurse after her cancer recovery. She felt great making that change afterwards. If you believe that your job is showing signs of discrimination due to your medical condition, then it’s time to seek consultation from a labor attorney.

4. Evaluate Your Job Overall- Ok, so you may have some bitter blood with co workers, supervisors, or the company in general. You may realize that the environment is not conducive to your transition. This is the time to think about how you can make it better for you at your job or consider a plan to find a new place of employment. Seeking counseling can help with traumatic events at your job such as accidents, violence, etc.


It takes time and patience to recover from medical or mental conditions. These steps will help you see where you stand when it comes to your job. So what are you waiting for, get back to work and make some money!

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