With the bright lights, holiday music, and celebrations, people often view the holidays as “the most wonderful time of the year.” If you’re a nurse working over the holidays, it might not feel that way, particularly given how busy hospitals get during this time of year.
Between higher rates of influenza during this season and other seasonal factors such as increased slips and falls, which could land people in the hospital, emergency rooms (ERs) typically see a spike in patients over the holidays. This spike means that as a nurse working an already stressful job where you may be short-staffed, the thought of working holiday shifts might be something you dread.
But working nursing shifts over the holidays certainly doesn’t have to be gloomy. Wishing healthcare workers a merry Christmas, we’ve compiled our best tips and inspiration for nurses so you can make the most of your shifts during the holiday season.
Nurse Appreciation and Christmas Wishes for Nurses
Lauren Tedaldi, a former scientist who underwent breast cancer treatment, penned a moving tribute to nurses who have supported her during her treatments. Here is a snippet from her love letter to nurses:
“For the nurses who regularly tell me how much they love my hair, when they know it is a wig.
For the nurses who play with my daughter while I have blood taken on a weekly (sometimes more) basis…
For all the nurses.
We are grateful and thankful and completely unable to show you how much because you see us when we are at our worst. When we are sick and tired (and sick and tired) and broken. And you fix us.
We love you.
Merry Christmas (I hope you get the holidays off).”
Tips to Help Make a Holiday Shift More Festive
If you’re working over the holidays, here are a few tips to help make the holiday shifts more festive for you, fellow nurses, healthcare workers, and your patients.
- Dress in a festive outfit. Even while you’re wearing scrubs, there are ways to incorporate a festive spirit into your outfit, including elf ears, a Santa hat, and Christmas ornament earrings. Adding these small touches to your outfit—and encouraging fellow nurses to do the same—is a great way to incorporate some holiday cheer into your shift.
- Play some holiday music. From Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to classics like “The First Noel” and “Angels We Have Heard on High,” there is no shortage of holiday music that you can play on rotation during your holiday shifts to brighten people’s spirits.
- Decorate your nursing station. Bring some tinsel, lights, and other holiday decor to spruce up your nursing station for the holidays. It’s bound to put a smile on people’s faces during the holiday season.
- Bring the festive spirit to your patients. Being hospitalized during the holiday season can be incredibly difficult for patients who may have had to cancel their travel plans or are missing out on special moments with family and friends. Together with fellow nurses, bring some holiday cheer to your patients by giving your patients some extra attention during this time. Check in with them, put on a holiday movie for them to enjoy, ask them to share their favorite holiday memory, or, if you have time, offer to help set up a video call with their loved ones. It can make all the difference for a patient feeling isolated and lonely during the holidays.
Remember that the holidays are when many religions (and non-religious people) celebrate hope and good cheer. This time of the year incorporates Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year celebrations. Making your workplace celebrations inclusive for all is important as you celebrate healthcare workers.
How to Share the Gratitude for Nurses Working during the Holidays
Working over the holidays can be challenging as nurses cope with busier emergency rooms and spend time away from their families. Here are some recommendations on how to share your gratitude for nurses working during the holidays:
- Give gifts. A small token of appreciation goes a long way. Whether you’re able to create stocking stuffers (think stress balls, hot chocolate mixes, bath bombs, face masks, and other small trinkets) for your fellow nurses or bring in candy canes and a card for your colleagues, gifts are a simple way to let others know you’re thinking of them as they work over the holidays.
- Organize a gift exchange. Ask colleagues to participate in a Secret Santa or Kris Kringle gift exchange by drawing names in advance for whoever will be working holiday shifts. For entertainment, organize a White Elephant gift exchange instead, where you can ‘steal’ one another’s gifts. Here are our recommendations on ideas for gifts nurses would appreciate, including some holiday-specific gifts for nurses.
- Organize a holiday party. You can incorporate the gift exchange into a holiday party, along with food, games (don’t forget to include prizes), and activities like a cookie exchange. Ask a supervisor if there are any plans to host a holiday party and whether there is a budget to support purchasing and planning a small holiday celebration for the nursing team and other medical staff.
Final Thoughts on Nurses Working during the Holidays
Working as a nurse during the holidays isn’t ideal, but given nursing staff shortages amid the ongoing pandemic, you are likely to work during the festive season.
Finally, if we haven’t managed to convince you to make the best of working during the holidays, consider nursing opportunities where you won’t be required to work during the festive season. You may be able to find a nursing opportunity that aligns better with your ideal schedule.
Here’s our Christmas wish: that every nurse will receive fair compensation, flexible work hours, and greater nurse appreciation for all that you do. Thank you for keeping others healthy and investing your time and energy into the wellness of your community and the most vulnerable. Happy holidays to every nurse from the Nursa team!