Surviving St. Patrick’s Day as a Nurse

Written by
Jacky Habib
March 16, 2023

For over 1,000 years, the Irish have observed St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate the fifth-century saint who is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland and is the country’s patron saint. The surprising history behind St. Patrick’s Day dates back to the mid-nineteenth century when Irish Americans would take to the streets to celebrate their culture but were portrayed in cartoons as drunks. 

Today, people around the world celebrate St. Patrick’s Day; this day has become synonymous with Irish culture, as people drink, dress up in green, and make nods to Irish traditions. 

For nurses, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations can be a mixed bag. On one hand, you can get into the festive spirit by decorating your nursing unit and enjoying St. Patrick’s Day treats. On the other hand, you may have safety challenges or concerns if you’re treating intoxicated patients. In this blog post, we’ll share essential safety tips for nurses and brief you on how to prepare for this day. 

What to Expect on St. Patrick’s Day as a Nurse

st patricks day celebration

If you’re a nurse working at a hospital or clinic, you can expect St. Patrick’s Day—March 17—to be more chaotic than a typical day. Here’s what you may encounter during your shift: 

Increased Patient Volume

Depending on the hospital or clinic’s location, there may be an increase in patient volume due to St. Patrick's Day festivities. You can also anticipate patients presenting with alcohol-related injuries or other issues. 

Hectic Work Environment

With an increase in patient volume, nurses may experience a more hectic work environment with an increased workload, particularly in the emergency room (ER).

St. Patrick's Day Safety Tips 

As a nurse, you’re used to taking care of everyone else, but it’s essential to take care of yourself first. Prioritizing your safety and well-being is key so you can keep showing up for your patients and put your best foot forward as you work alongside other healthcare professionals. 

When it comes to preparing for St. Patrick’s Day and the chaos it can bring, here are some tips to help you prioritize safety and survive St. Patrick’s Day:

  • Know your workplace’s policies on safety and harassment. Nurses should familiarize themselves with the hospital's policies regarding patient aggression or harassment. This includes knowing who to report incidents to and what actions to take. In addition, learning about patient violence against nurses and how to handle violence against nurses can be supportive. 
  • Practice situational awareness: Nurses should be aware of their surroundings and be mindful of any signs of potential aggression from patients. This includes paying attention to a patient’s body language, tone of voice, and other behavioral cues.
  • Practice self-care: If an increase in patient volume and intoxication amounts to a particularly stressful workday, it can take a toll on your mental and physical health. Nurses should prioritize their self-care by taking breaks, staying hydrated, and engaging in stress-relieving activities.
  • Ask for support if you need it. Being a nurse can be incredibly taxing as it can take an emotional toll and lead to burnout. If you need support, look into your workplace’s wellness policies and programs to explore your options when it comes to benefits on everything from subsidized gym memberships to therapy and mental health coaching.

Dealing with Intoxicated Patients as a Nurse 

green beer cup

Unfortunately, hospitals typically see an uptake in alcohol-related incidents on St. Patrick’s Day. The statistics are sobering. On St. Patrick’s Day, it is estimated that a drunk driving death occurs every thirty minutes as a result of a spike in drunk driving. The binge drinking which many engage in during St. Patrick’s Day puts everyone at risk, from pedestrians who can be struck by intoxicated drivers to those who have been drinking themselves, as they may get injured. 

When it comes to dealing with intoxicated patients, here are some tips for nurses: 

  • Stay calm. Intoxicated patients may be agitated or difficult to deal with, but as a nurse, it's essential to remain calm and composed. 
  • Use clear and concise language. Speak clearly and concisely, and avoid using medical jargon that the patient may not understand. These basics will support you as you strengthen your communication with patients as a nurse.  
  • Ensure the patient’s safety. Intoxicated patients may be at risk for falls or other injuries, so be sure to monitor the patient and assess their surroundings to make sure they are in a safe and secure environment with minimal risks. 
  • Prioritize your safety and well-being. If you feel at all at risk when working with a patient who is intoxicated, alert other nurses and medical staff who can step in to support you, especially if you need an extra pair of hands to manage the situation. Familiarize yourself with your employer’s policies on workplace safety and harassment so you will know the best course of action to take in these situations. 

Final Thoughts on Surviving St. Patrick’s Day as a Nurse

St. Patrick’s Day can be a fun, celebratory event. As a nurse, you have an excuse to dress up in green, wear special St. Patrick's Day nursing shoes, decorate your unit, and chat with patients about the celebration. However, it can also be incredibly stressful, which is why it’s essential to know what to expect and how you can prioritize your safety and wellness. 

As a nurse, you may want to put together a survival kit for yourself or your colleagues. Your St. Patrick’s Day survival kit may include healthy snacks to help boost your energy to get you through the day, water to ensure you’re staying hydrated, a stress ball or other comforting and stress-relieving accessories, and comfortable shoes as you’ll be on your feet all day—and might have a longer-than-usual shift.

Blog published on:
March 16, 2023

Meet Jacky, a contributing copywriter at Nursa who specializes in writing about nursing specialties, FAQs, and career advice.

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