Working a nursing shift during a major holiday can be disruptive and stressful, whether you’re single or have a family waiting for you at home. How does your nurse manager decide who will work on a holiday? Some facilities do a lottery, while others look for volunteers by offering incentives like extra vacation days or overtime. If you need to work a nursing shift on Christmas, Hanukkah or Thanksgiving, how do you handle it?
The reality is that people continue to get sick, have babies or become injured every single day of the year. Hospitals can’t close down for the holidays. Nurses understand that they’re essential members of a vital service that needs to operate 24/7 – just like police officers, firefighters and EMTs. But there are ways that you can have your cake and eat it, too. It is still possible to find ways to enjoy the holiday season with your family and friends even if you have to work a shift. Here are some tips.
Approaching your holiday shift with a positive and professional attitude will not only help you feel better and more in control, but it will also benefit the other team members who are working that shift with you.
From potlucks to Secret Santa gifts and decorations, there are ways to get (and spread) some enjoyment during your holiday shift. Enlist your “work family” to help you create a memorable occasion – not just for the nursing team, but also for your patients, especially those that are children. They don’t want to be there any more than you do!
Try not to overcommit yourself. It’s so easy to fill your calendar with social events and activities during the holidays. You can go crazy trying to cram it all in. By limiting your social obligations, you have more time to do the things that matter most to you.
Even if you aren’t working a holiday shift, you can still be swamped with tasks during the holidays. Shopping, cooking, wrapping, decorating, preparing for guests….Adding a shift to the mix can increase the stress level if you are not organized. Make a list of everything that needs to be done, and chip away at it as you get time. If possible, get help!
Let your family and friends know ahead of time that you will be working during the holiday. This gives them (and you) a chance to plan accordingly and also helps to avoid any feelings of abandonment. If you have children, let them help you plan how and when you will celebrate the holiday together. You are not working for the entire 24-hour period of that holiday, so decide together when you can squeeze in your favorite traditions.
Working during the holidays can be stressful and hard, or it can be memorable and fun. It’s what you make of it.
Do you typically work a holiday shift? How does your facility decide who will work on holidays? What are some of your ideas for how to make working during the holidays easier and more enjoyable? Tell us in the comments below!