Many nurses are required to work holidays – that’s just the nature of the job. So while the season is merry and bright, some nurses are left feeling a little bit blue if they have to miss out on their own family’s festivities. Although it is hard to be away from loved ones on special holidays, there are steps you can take to make yourself feel a little less blue about being away from them and more satisfied with working a holiday shift.

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Holidays Aren’t Set In Stone

There are no rules around celebrating a holiday. If you’re scheduled for a shift on a special day, consider switching the day that your family celebrates to a day that you have off, or shuffle around the schedule of your traditions.

“When I was scheduled for my first Christmas Day shift my family shuffled around how we celebrate so that I could be there for all of the traditions,” one of our nurses remarked. “We opened presents the night before instead of during the morning, and they woke up early with me to have a cup of coffee and breakfast while listening to Christmas carols and taking in the holiday excitement. We also pushed our family dinner to later in the evening so that I’d be home in time to join. While I felt like they made a huge sacrifice for me by shuffling around their schedule, they insist every year that it’s no big deal as long as it means I’m around for the festivities.”

Early mornings an late nights can be tough for nurses who have little ones, but celebrating a day early can be extremely exciting for kids – that’s a whole day less that they have to wait for all the fun! Regardless of your situation, take the time to plan ahead and communicate with your loved ones so that you can celebrate together.

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Create Work Traditions

Just because you’re working on a holiday doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate it! Depending on the policies of your work environment you can likely add some decorations to boost the atmosphere, play some holiday tunes, or even dress up a bit. (Santa hat, anyone?).

As one OR nurse recalls,

“Last year when I worked Christmas Day we played Christmas carols in the OR, and it was great! The surgeon would ask each patient what their favourite carol was and that would be the first one we’d play. It made the day different from all the others, and helped it feel more cheerful and special for both our team and the patient.”

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Remember Your Impact

Lastly, and more importantly, remember that nurses save lives. Whether it’s triaging patients, hooking up an IV, caring for preemies in the NICU, assisting in the OR, or any other one of the countless roles that nurses fill, nurses are essential to their patients’ health and wellness, both directly and indirectly. Even for patients who are not facing life-threatening medical problems, the care you provide for minor issues can affect how their health progresses, preventing or mitigating larger problems from occurring.

Outside of the essential role that nurses have in patients’ healthcare, they are often the #1 source of compassion for the ones they are treating as they are right there on the frontlines spending lots of time with patients. Our Social Media Manager, Kendra, reflects on her own recent experience with a nurse following her recent jaw surgery,

“I was incredibly nervous for my surgery. I mean, they were detaching my lower jaw from my skull and screwing it back in in another position! YIKES! But when I woke up I had the most incredible care. One thing that stood out is when I was panicked to having morphine for the first time, as my mother is deathly allergic to it and I thought maybe I would be too. While that fear was a little irrational, my nurse took extra steps to put my mind at ease by hooking me up to oxygen and an oximeter before I got my first morphine dose, and she checked on me often. Even though she was confident I would be alright she did everything she could to make me feel safe and comfortable while I was in a very vulnerable position.”

If you’re looking for a nursing career that will allow you more flexibility with time off so that you can arrange to schedule to accommodate holidays, consider travel nursing.