Holiday Work Hours Present Challenges for Nurses

holiday work hours

Holiday work hours are a struggle for many nurses. The nursing profession staffs for the needs of patients at all times. People can get sick at any hour of the day, any day of the week. It is a guarantee that nurses will have to work some weekends, holidays and personal special days such as birthdays and anniversaries. It’s a sacrifice that comes with the job.

As a new nurse, you can count on being given the prime holiday and weekend shifts. As you gain some seniority, newer nurses will have those days, and you’ll have a better pick of fewer holidays. If you change jobs, be prepared to start at the bottom of the totem pole again. It’s all part of being a nurse, and it is something you’ll have to educate your family and friends about, especially if they have a more standardized working schedule. With a few exceptions, nursing just doesn’t work that way.

All of this being said, you won’t completely miss a birthday or holiday, but you may have to celebrate at odd hours. Sometimes a special event has to be moved a few days to ensure that you can be part of the celebration, and no one ever said that a birthday or holiday can’t be celebrated multiple times with different friends and family!

Most employers work hard to spread out the responsibility of holiday work hours in the most fair way possible. Often, nurses will volunteer to take holidays that aren’t as important to them for personal or religious reasons. Holiday assignments are usually made well enough in advance that nurses have time to work with family and friends to plan alternative events. 

Nursing is about taking care of people, and at times it becomes more about sharing time with those who cannot be with their family and friends. Sharing your time and holiday spirit with patients can be very rewarding and heartwarming. When your family and friends understand this, you’ll find you have less resistance and drama stemming from not being able to host a certain pool party or birthday celebration this year.

Weekends can be a little more challenging for nurses with families. Children’s sporting events don’t move to every other Saturday just to accommodate you. But you learn to make the most of the time you do have and with technology today, many moments can be captured and shared almost in real time. Time management and organizational skills have to transfer from your job to your home life to ensure that you have quality time for yourself and your family and friends.

Careful planning and understanding the sacrifices needed to be the best nurse possible will help make the best of any situation. Of course, as a nurse, you know that you must always expect the unexpected and know how to be flexible, regroup, and move forward.

Photo Source: morgueFile

Tags: Registered Nursing

About Kathy Quan RN BSN PHN

I have been an RN for over 35 years. I was the last Guide to Nursing at About.com and have written 3 books for nurses and 1 about health care careers. My blog (TheNursingSiteBlog.com) has been honored with several awards from my peers and The Everything New Nurse Book was honored by my peers as well. I also own several websites which I design and write for that are geared to nurses and health care professionals. You can find a list of them at KathyQuan.com.