As we all are well aware, one of the pitfalls of nursing is the holiday schedule. During most of the year, it’s bearable. We take our weekend shifts and night shifts in stride, but when your 25 closest relatives plan to be camped out at your house for turkey and football, well, it gets a little more frustrating.
What can be done to make the holidays a little easier? Well, at the top of the list, as with any job, is management that is willing to realize you have a life outside of work. Perhaps your hospital already has good scheduling karma, but if not, maybe it is time to speak up—respectfully!—and offer some new options for next year’s holiday scheduling.
Here are a few scheduling ideas to get you started:
• Allow everyone to prioritize the days they would prefer to take off. Perhaps Christmas Eve is more important in your family than Christmas Day. By setting your 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice of holidays, everyone is more likely to get what they want.
• If a sign-up sheet method is used, next to the sign-up sheet, post the holidays all employees worked the previous year. If everyone can see that Sarah worked Christmas Day and 4th of July last year, everyone can understand why she doesn’t want to work those days this year.
• Create groups. Group 1 works 4th of July, Thanksgiving and New Years’ Day. Group 2 works Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Christmas Day. Each year, the groups alternate, and groups are static for at least 3 years in advance.
Once the schedule is set however, there are always ways to make working the holiday better:
• Throw a party. Have everyone bring a dish, and have a potluck party. Be sure to invite any families that are visiting patients, as they are missing their holiday celebrations, too!
• Remember that airfare is cheaper just before and after the holidays. If you can’t visit family on Christmas, waiting until after the holidays won’t be the end of the world, particularly if the plane ticket is $200 cheaper!
• And lastly, don’t forget that your patients can’t be at home celebrating with their families, either. When your own troubles get you down, it is always useful to help someone else with theirs. Pay extra attention to your patients at the holidays and make their day a little brighter. It will inevitably make yours better in the process!