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Guide to Working the Holidays


If you’re a healthcare professional, then chances are you’ll have to work on holidays. This is how to make it through.

If you’re a nurse, medical assistant, or other healthcare professional, there’s a good chance you’ll have to work on a holiday at some point. If you do, it’s easy to feel like you’re missing out on a major family or social event. It can be hard, but it’s essential. When you have to work on a holiday, this is how you can get through it.

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Remember that you’re necessary

If you work in healthcare, you work in an industry that people need every day, every hour, no matter what. The fact is, people need healthcare regardless of what the calendar says. Broken bones don’t take holidays. Heart attacks don’t care whether it’s Easter. Cancer needs treating even on Christmas. Babies are born on New Year’s Eve, Halloween, and the Fourth of July.

Healthcare deals with life, death, birth, healing, and things that are often bigger than us. Nurses and medical assistants deal with all of it. The families who need to be in the hospital on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve will remember it for the rest of their lives. They’ll talk about the Halloween when they had a broken arm or the Easter when their child was born. You’ll be there not just on a holiday, but on a holiday that was momentous for them. One they’ll always remember.

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Bring some festivity into the workplace

Just because you’re at work, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a little bit of holiday joy. While a full-on celebration won’t fly in the workplace (we don’t recommend setting off fireworks in a hospital on the Fourth, for instance), you can bring some fun. Wearing holiday scrubs, putting out a bowl of candy around Halloween, setting up a tiny Christmas tree, or even having a little bit of Thanksgiving turkey in the break room can make the workplace more festive.

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There are benefits to working holidays

Lastly, there are some very good things about working in a hospital on a holiday. It’s very possible things will be a little quieter than they normally would. Patients who can will probably elect to stay at home with their families. What’s more, if your workplace is one where it first asks staff to volunteer to work on holidays, then saying yes to a shift on a day off could be a good way to increase your standing with your co-workers. Other folks on staff will be glad you’re working and allowing them to stay home, and supervisors will be glad just to have that time covered.

Working holidays also provide a chance for staff to bond. You’ll feel a sense of solidarity with the other people who are putting in time, and there’s also the chance to make some overtime. And when you do clock out, there’s always the chance to celebrate later. You might have missed the calendar day, but holidays are what we make them. If you have to celebrate with loved ones a day later, that’s just as real as doing it the day of.

Are you ready to provide healthcare no matter what the calendar says? Visit our program pages to learn more about our nursing and RN–BSN programs, or follow us on Facebook.