Happy Holidays

Surviving the Christmas Shift

So you’re stuck with the Christmas shift this year… it was bound to happen. And if it hasn’t happened to you yet, just wait! With healthcare, like other emergency services, the job doesn’t always cooperate with the calendar, and patients will need urgent care regardless of what the rest of your friends and family are doing that day. But don’t worry, with the right mindset and a few tricks, you won’t just survive the Christmas shift, you’ll excel at it.

The first thing to remember is that nobody really wants to be in the hospital during the holidays. But how you respond to your shift assignment is entirely within your control.

“A lot of times the patients don’t want to be there, and the staff doesn’t want to be there. But you do your best to be jovial for the patients,” says Sharon Broscious, program director for Nursing at South University – Richmond.

One thing that will help to keep that “Christmas spirit” is to find the positive perspectives of working on a holiday, and yes, they do exist. For one, it’s a job, not an illness, which means as inconvenient as it might be, you still get to go home after your shift, while many of your patients will remain in their beds. There’s also the potential of overtime pay in some cases, you get to spend holiday time with your work family, and sometimes, work can be a pleasant escape from the stress of a house full of holiday visitors.

But many will find that the escape from the Christmas shift doldrums comes not from concentrating on finding positives for you, but in finding positives for your patients. You’re the one in control of their Christmas environment, and the extra miles you go to bring some holiday cheer to their stay will almost always be appreciated in ways you may never fully know. It’s the season of giving, after all, so do what nurses do best and give.

Play some Christmas music, put up some decorations (after checking with your hospitals policies, of course), bring in some cookies, and find ways to get creative. Just keep in mind that not all people celebrate Christmas-some celebrate other holidays, like Hanukah or Kwanza, and some don’t celebrate at all-so just like in public speaking or teaching, you need to remember your audience.

You can also help your holiday shift state of mind by making smart choices outside of work. You might not be able to control your time commitments inside your hospital, but you are very much in control of your commitments outside the hospital. If you know you have a potentially stressful Christmas shift looming, make sure not to overcommit yourself to holiday activities in the days before and after. Go into your holiday shift refreshed, and plan time to rest and relax after.

You’ll also want to give your friends and family plenty of advance notice of any holiday shifts-managing expectations in advance can go a long way towards preventing hurt feelings or resentment.

One thing is for certain, though. Even though pulling the holiday shift might be disappointing, we’re very glad to know that people like you are there if we need you. And we know we’re not alone in that.

If you’d like more information on becoming a nurse or advancing your nurses training, you can contact Unitek College here.