Nurses and other healthcare staff generally have to work a set number of holidays each year. That means you might end up at the hospital on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year's Eve. If you find yourself in this boat, why not make the most of it? From implementing new traditions on your unit floor to relishing the light traffic during a normally busy week-day commute, Holiday work can be as jolly as you make it.
Understanding the facility's scheduling policies and planning in advance can lead to a successful and stress-free holiday season. Prioritize the holidays that are most important to you, and then put in a request for those days off as early as possible.
You might be able to find a co-worker to trade shifts. If you don't celebrate Christmas and don't mind working, surely you can find someone willing to switch. For non-Christian holidays, some facilities make special arrangements for those who celebrate holidays other than the Christian ones. Those holidays are accommodated on a case-by-case basis.
Don’t wait for surprises. Holiday schedules are normally completed way in advance. It's probably too late for this year, but in the future, find out when schedules are made so you have plenty of time to make adjustments like trading or bartering shifts.
It can be difficult for family members to comprehend and realize that if you're on the work schedule, you won't be around for the holidays. With experience, nurses and their families understand the fact that it comes with the territory and grow to not even give it a second thought.
You can celebrate the Holidays with your work “family.” Focus on building camaraderie as part of the bigger picture. Having a party is a fun way to build morale and take your mind off not being at home. It also helps the shift go by faster. Bring in special holiday foods or treats to share your holiday joy. Some teams enjoy doing a small secret gift exchange.
Recognize that you’re not in it alone. You are going to have many people working with you that day. Working on the Holidays oftentimes comes with some benefits and perks, too. Although it varies from hospital to hospital, many states and facilities pay extra hourly rates or overtime for staff working federally-mandated holidays.
It's important to stay flexible and adaptable around Holidays, just as you are every day. If working Holiday hours really bothers you, consider working some place that is not a 24-hour facility, even if it means moving. Expect that there will be light leadership coverage. Senior leadership may not be there, but know how to reach them if and when you need to. You should be able to text or call any time, day or night.
Remember, the season is not just about you. Don't forget your mission to serve patients, whom are also away from their homes on the Holidays. Nurses play an important part in creating a happy and blessed atmosphere for patients and their families.
Being a nurse during the Holidays can be a mixed bag. Since nurses work in an enormous variety of clinical and non-clinical settings, every situation will be different, but one common denominator is that the Holidays have an impact on us all. Make your Holidays meaningful, no matter where or how you spend them.
Are you working over the Holidays? What do you and your team do to make it special? Leave us a comment!