No one goes into bedside clinical care with the notion of having every holiday off. Healthcare is a ’round the clock business, after all! Early in our nursing career, we have to accept that “Yeah, it is Friday!” has no meaning. Missing holidays is just another necessary sacrifice to care for those who need our skills. 👨‍⚕️👩🏿‍⚕️

Approaching the holiday season, Facebook medical pages are filled with questions and complaints about working the holiday season. Like anything else, though, there are pros and cons (positives and negatives).

The Pros

Holiday pay rocks. If you like a little extra cash in your pocket, working holidays is a great way to do that without working overtime shifts.  🤑 A word of experience, though. Do not work overtime shifts during the same week as your holiday shift. Uncle Sam (aka taxes) will eat a hole in that check and you won’t see the money.

No traffic on the commute. None. Zip right on in! No CEOs or JCAHO in the hospital. The only people you will encounter are those who must be out and about. It is fabulous. 🚗💨

You, your fellow staff, and your patients are all in it together, making the best out of the situation. You are your patient’s family on this day! It is a great opportunity to give and receive extra love, support, compassion, and silliness. Celebrating with your work family is awesome.

🥂

The Cons

Patients may be a bit withdrawn because they are also missing this special time. Occasionally, it is a fact that this is there last holiday. No matter how hard we try, clinical staff cannot replace family and home.

If you don’t have young children, be prepared for insensitive remarks about how you should work holidays because you don’t have kids. If you want to volunteer, go for it, but do not feel pressured.

Family will not always understand. We had an annual Mother’s day celebration to which I was always invited, but could never attend. This was greeted with, “Oh, I bet you are working. Can you make it? Maybe next year.” … Yep, okay, thanks. Moving on…..

It is tough to miss those special times with family and friends. One method to ease the pain is to ask family to work with your schedule. If you are working Thanksgiving, can your family celebrate on Friday instead? One Christmas when my boys were little, we celebrated on December the 26th. They didn’t miss anything, and neither did I!

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Holiday Scheduling

How holiday scheduling is handled varies. My favorite was Group A and Group B scheduling. Everyone knows what their holidays are every year. Knowing that you are definitely off next Thanksgiving makes it much easier to eat cafeteria turkey THIS Thanksgiving. 🍗

Some places do not address the holidays. Nurses work a set schedule. If it is your time to work, it is your time to work. This was only a problem when I worked weekends for ten years and worked every single Mother’s day, Father’s day, and Easter, without holiday pay ’cause they aren’t “holidays”. 😉

It may be that every nurse works every other holiday and every other weekend no matter what. Be honest if you are trying to trade days with someone to get a needed holiday, though. Early in my career, a coworker (whom I admired!) asked if I would switch days with her and work Monday, May 31st, 2004. I agreed without a second thought. It was Memorial Day 😞

Emergencies and illness do not take holidays off. If holidays are really important to you, add holiday scheduling to your list of questions for your interviewer! 🕎🎄

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Posted by Catherine MSN RN

Catherine is a nursing subject matter expert at Higher Learning Technologies, the developers of awesome Nursing Mastery products. Catherine worked in oncology, pulmonary, progressive care, intensive care, med-surg, step-down, and hospice. Catherine teaches clinical, classroom, and simulation. "Spare time" fillers include craft festivals, camping, and raising 5 boys in TN. #BoyMomma #ICanStudyAnywhere #NursesRock

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