6 Tips for Working Holidays in Healthcare

healthcare worker wearing hat
Written by
Miranda Kay, RN
November 21, 2022

Working holidays are a particular challenge for healthcare workers. In most professions, employers are required by law to provide vacation and time off during holidays, especially major holidays, so that that staff can spend time with their families. In the nursing profession, however, these holidays do not apply. Nurses often have shifts on holidays, and it is essential to know how to deal with these situations in the best possible way. Other times, nurses might want to pick up jobs during this time of year for various reasons. Regardless of why you are working the holidays, here are some tips to help you make it through.

Holidays in Healthcare 

The officially recognized mandatory holidays in the US in 2023 are Christmas, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, Labor Day, New Year's Day, and Memorial Day.

A few situations can arise at this time of year when working over the holidays, especially after the pandemic. The most common situation is that being a healthcare worker can make it hard for relatives to get too close to them because healthcare workers are in constant contact with seriously ill pandemic patients. The situation can become stressful, especially if healthcare workers keep their distance to avoid contagion among their family and friends. While maintaining a distance is caring for their family members while remaining isolated from the world, even when observing the rest of the population, family, and friends having a good time together, can be immensely difficult. Healthcare staff members can feel isolated, so it is essential to share some tips for these upcoming holidays so that healthcare staff can feel supported and see the positive side of the situation.

Tips for Holiday Stress

  1. Have support groups among colleagues or other health personnel. Health workers should have support networks with people who live in similar situations to them to talk about issues that others understand well because they experience them the same way. This helps prevent healthcare workers from feeling isolated from the rest of the world, as they can see others living in similar situations.
  2. Practice self-care, such as exercising, eating well, having good sleep habits, etc. At this time, more than ever, many people have insomnia problems, eating disorders, and physical situations that arose during the pandemic. It is essential to maintain good habits so that the body finds emotional security in the routine, exercise, and diet, as this has been shown to help people keep positive emotions.
  3. Seek professional support if the situation becomes unbearable. In cases where they need professional help, there is no need to feel ashamed because it is a common situation experienced worldwide. All healthcare personnel must have good mental health to attend to patients in the best way. There are many resources on this mental health page if you need to talk to a professional. You can read about the psychiatric nursing specialty on our ultimate guide if you want to learn more about it.
  4. Look at the bright side. Healthcare workers often focus only on all the terrible things they have seen, heard, and read about during the pandemic. However, many inspiring stories and statistics indicate a gradual worldwide improvement in the decline of severe cases and people willing to speak positively about the situation they are experiencing.
  5. Find ways and techniques to cope with anger and frustration. When seeing family members enjoying the holidays, it is normal to feel a lot of anger toward the situation. Overall, it is essential not to keep this frustration to yourself but to know ways to cope with it and vent it.
  6. Talk to others about how you feel, tell friends and family what is on your mind, and find ways to be present, even virtually. By talking to family members, colleagues, and friends about how they feel, they will undoubtedly find support and understanding, which will help them feel that they are not alone.

One benefit of working at the hospital during the holidays is that patients visit their families with love and joy. Another advantage is that the pay is usually higher for healthcare workers who have a contract with the hospital.

Seasonal Holiday Workers in Healthcare

Of course, many workers do seasonal jobs in healthcare since there are many vacancies to fill during these times, precisely because most people choose not to work during the holidays.

One way to avoid working the holidays is by saving enough money on extra PRN (pro re nata) shifts. PRN shifts pay healthcare workers better. Thus, if they work a good number of PRN shifts before the holidays, the stress of being able to spend the holidays well, gift nice things to people who matter a lot, be with family, and share with friends can become a reality. Indeed, PRN shifts do not pay holiday pay, but it is also true that by paying more per hour, the income lasts longer, and financial goals can be reached more efficiently for all nurses and other healthcare workers.

Blog published on:
November 21, 2022

Miranda is a Registered Nurse, Medical Fact Checker, and Publishing Editor at Nursa. Her work has been featured in publications including the American Nurses Association (ANA), Healthcare IT Outcomes, International Living, and more.

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