Family gatherings, friends, and the changes of seasons—for some, the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. If you are a healthcare professional, however, sometimes, the holidays can be challenging. That’s because the majority of healthcare workers, such as registered nurses (RNs), will be required to work this holiday season. Furthermore, since the holiday months often increase hospital visits and admissions due to seasonal illness, nurses are pretty much expected to cover nursing shifts—sigh.
This being the case, if you are currently working in healthcare, it’s probably a good idea to familiarize yourself with nursing holiday rotation schedules and policies. And while you may not be able to take off all the time you want as a nurse, you can certainly maximize your vacation time to partake in a little cheer this year. After all, you absolutely deserve it! Below are some ways a nursing holiday schedule can benefit both nurses and employers.
Nursing Holiday Rotation Schedule: Pre-Scheduling
A successful nursing holiday schedule includes the collaboration of both employed nurses and management. Ideally, a hospital or other medical facility will have set in place a pre-scheduling system to help schedule and cover nursing shifts in advance. Additionally, a pre-scheduling system allows nurses to sign up or trade shifts with co-workers upon approval of management. This type of advanced scheduling can help eliminate scheduling confusion during the holiday months as well as secure coverage where it is needed most.
Example of a Holiday Schedule for Nurses: Prioritizing Senior Staff
In addition to implementing an effective pre-scheduling system that alleviates the pressure on managers to ensure nursing shift coverage, most management will follow seniority staffing policies. That is to say, around the holidays, senior nursing staff may have the “pick of the litter” when it comes to choosing their paid time off (PTO). Moreover, new nurses should be prepared to have their shifts swapped with those of nurses who have worked with the hospital or other medical facility for a while. At the same time, many seasoned nurses will step up to the plate and work during peak holiday days as they are well aware of the influx of patient admissions during this time of year. Similarly, scheduling managers should make sure enough senior nurses are scheduled during the holidays to maintain leadership on the floor and make sure there is always an experienced staff member in charge.
Nursing Holiday Rotation Schedule
A nursing holiday rotation schedule falls under the same umbrella as a pre-scheduling system. That is to say that a nursing holiday rotation schedule is when nurses agree to work certain major holidays well in advance. This could mean that a nurse chooses to work Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving Day, and July 4th one year, and the next year rotates and works other major holidays. Ultimately, a nursing holiday rotation schedule allows nurses to enjoy different holidays each year. As a result, nurses can plan their holidays well in advance. Accordingly, a nursing holiday rotation schedule can help employers ensure that there will be enough coverage on the floor.
Policy for Holiday Schedules in Nursing
While the Fair Labor Standards Act doesn’t regulate or require holiday pay, nurses hoping to take some time off during the holidays can use paid time off (PTO). That said, nurses average around fourteen paid time off days per year. Moreover, nurses who have been committed to one place of employment for several years can receive additional PTO for higher-ranking positions—about twenty-six days on average. PTO policies will depend on the place of employment, and “paid days off” may be divided into sick days and vacation days. But keep in mind that PTO requests can be denied. Consequently, even if you have accumulated several days of PTO, approving your holiday scheduling requests is at the discretion of your scheduling manager.
Maximizing a Nursing Holiday Schedule
Working during the holidays is expected by the majority of nurses. Therefore, management should design a thoughtful holiday scheduling plan and request that all nurses submit their holiday time off requests at least two months in advance. Additionally, scheduling managers may want to hire a few per diem nurses for even more coverage cushion. Finally, management could offer financial incentives or holiday pay for nurses who voluntarily choose to work during the busiest holiday period. All of these factors can maximize a nursing holiday schedule and ensure that gaps in nursing coverage are less likely to occur.
The Bottom Line
Do you see? A holiday nursing schedule doesn’t have to be so stressful after all. And while there will certainly be years that require you to work long hours as a nurse on major holidays, you can rest assured that your holiday break is coming. As long as both management and nursing staff can find a streamlined work scheduling system that satisfies both sides, everyone can be a little merrier this holiday season.