Print

Nurse Supervisor Jobs >> Browse Articles >> Work-Life Balance

+3

Cope with Working the Holidays in Healthcare

Cope with Working the Holidays in Healthcare

Megan Malugani | Monster Contributing Writer

November 23, 2009

Are you a healthcare professional who’s feeling anything but merry about working yet another holiday shift? Healthcare veterans offer tips on how to banish your inner grinch and make the most of another holiday on the job.

Plan Ahead

Healthcare professionals say one of the worst aspects of working a holiday is missing family events. Diane Speranza, RN, a certified emergency nurse at Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital in Tarpon Springs, Florida, plans holiday gatherings with extended family members, many of whom also work in healthcare or in law enforcement and have similar scheduling challenges, several months in advance. “We very rarely celebrate Christmas on Christmas Day,” she says. “A holiday is whenever a family can be together.”

Invite Loved Ones to Work

Some healthcare employers allow their employees to invite guests for short visits during holiday shifts. “The best years have been when it’s slow enough to actually have families come in,” says Connie Meyer, a paramedic captain for Johnson County Med-Act in Olathe, Kansas.

Meyer, who always works 24-hour shifts with the same crew, finds ways to make the best of holiday shifts that are too busy for visitors. “At work, it’s just a different family we’re spending our time with,” she says.

Brace Yourself for the Emotional Toll

Caring for lonely, sick patients on holidays can be especially wrenching, Meyer says. Responding to a cardiac arrest during a family dinner, for example, is particularly tough. “On a holiday, you have to be flexible and expect that extra emotion to come into your calls,” she says.

In the ER on holidays, Speranza prefers a steady stream of patients to a trickle — but dreads severe trauma cases. “If it’s slow in the ER, time drags, and you start thinking about being there and working on the holiday,” she says. “If you’re kept busy, the next thing you know, the day is over.”

Empathize with Your Patients

Year-round, Speranza gives her youngest patients little presents to make their ER experience easier. During the holiday season, she wraps them to look like holiday gifts. Even if you don’t make similar holiday-related gestures, you should at least hide your grouchiness from patients, Speranza advises. “If you’re going to be down and grumpy and have a bad attitude, that will affect your patient care and the attitude of the patient as well,” she says. “Think of it as, ‚Äėthese people don’t want to be here either.’”

Enjoy the Perks, or Create Your Own

Some healthcare employers pay employees who work holidays time and a half, double time or even triple time. Hospitals also may provide free meals on Thanksgiving or Christmas. In some cases, hospital administrators may roll up their sleeves and serve holiday meals to their hardworking staffs.

If your workplace doesn’t offer such perks, you can still make the day festive. Pharmacist Ron Barnes, MS, RPh, F-ASHP, and his colleagues at Saint Joseph’s Hospital of Atlanta bring in homemade dishes to share for holiday dinners. They also hold a Christmas gift exchange.


+3
  • Photo_user_blank_big

    ivoryangel

    about 5 years ago

    2 comments

    For veteran nurses holidays have seemed to be always part of our schedule and we just did it. Now I work in he Home Health field as a contractor and things haven't changed much. I will be working everyday for the next 6 wks. due to a recent company mandate. If it is your daily patient Mon.-Fri. we have to see them on wkends or lose that patient. Not good, and certainly not making my family happy, but we must remember our patients don't suddenly get well just because it is a holiday. Planning ahead make it easier to still work and enjoy your holidays. Sharing with your paitents is also rewarding: Make some sugar free cookies and see the smiles you will recieve.

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL

    Pam Abendroth

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Account Removed

    about 5 years ago

    Working with your extended hospital family on holidays can be a perk. Especially if you are single or a traveling nurse.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    lralkhatib

    about 5 years ago

    2094 comments

    nice topic.

NursingLink School Finder

Save time in your search for a nursing or healthcare degree program. Use NursingLink's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

Get Info

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.