Rolling Hill nursing

How to Make Your Holiday Nursing Shift Less Sucky


JUNE, 2020

There are some major benefits to the nurse schedule. Even though they can be the three craziest days ever, working three days a week has its advantages. For example, you can clump your shifts together for more days off in a row, and you can almost always find an appointment for a haircut when you have days off in the middle of the week when normal people are working. The negative side, however, is that the hospital needs people working 24/7, no matter what. It doesn’t matter if there is a crazy blizzard, or a pandemic, or a holiday. You may be required to work during any one of those things.

It is no surprise to most nurses that we may have to work nights, or weekends, or holidays, or really any time that most people don’t have to work. It can really suck having to work a holiday. 

If you are a new nurse that never had to work holidays before, the feeling can be a little overwhelming. It really sucks having to miss out on the fun that your family and non-nursing friends have planned. 

Every hospital and every unit does holiday scheduling a little differently. It could be based on seniority, or points, or “teams.” No matter how your nursing unit does it, you’re bound to work at least some holidays.

Believe it or not, there are definitely some benefits of working on holidays, and they can actually be a lot of fun. I have had a lot of really fun nursing shifts while working a holiday. 

With the Fourth of July right around the corner, I wanted to put out a post about the positives of working on a holiday and how to make the shift more fun!

Burnout is a real thing, and it can happen to any nurse. It can happen at any point in your career – even for new nurses!

Read one of my other posts with a new tool from renowned psychiatrist, Dr. Heim, to prevent burnout.

Read below for my tips on how to make your holiday nursing shift the best shift ever!

1. Focus On The Benefits

Working a holiday can definitely be a drag, but the number one thing that I like to focus on when working a holiday nursing shift is HOLIDAY PAY. Nursing is definitely not all about the money, and if that’s the only reason you are going into nursing, then you will be sorely disappointed. BUT, it is still pretty nice to get that holiday pay (usually time and a half).

For me, I just kind of like to remind myself of that during the shift if I start to get a little mopey. You can just repeat “holiday pay” in your head to yourself like a mantra if that helps.

Otherwise, if a positive personal mantra is something that might help you during any shift, check out this post.

Another nice benefit of working your nursing shift on a holiday is that oftentimes these shifts can be… quiet. Oh my gosh, I am so sorry, I know I should never say the q word. Don’t worry, I made sure to knock on wood and throw salt over my shoulder while writing this… just in case.

Unfortunately, this can also not be the case. For example, I’m sure the emergency Department ends up getting pretty dang busy on the Fourth of July due to the increased use of alcohol and minor explosives. If you work in the ER, good luck, at least you might end up getting some good stories!

In my personal experience, the floor has been fairly low stress on holidays, which allows you some time to connect with your patients and coworkers. Try asking your patient what their favorite traditions are for whatever holiday you happen to have.

I always love hearing about different people’s traditions and the intricacies of their family bonds. 

It seems to me that people always try to hold off going to the hospital until after a holiday. Once the holiday is over, however, that’s when everyone starts flocking back to see us.

2. Organize a Potluck

I know that some people totally hate potlucks, and I get it. Especially right now with COVID, potlucks might not seem like the most sanitary thing.

I am also the type of person that just loves to eat, and you bet I will go into the break room during my nursing shift as many times as I can during a potluck to eat a little more. I love eating small amounts of a bunch of different dishes. 

I also really enjoy seeing which nurses on my unit go all out for the potluck with their slow cookers and which nurses just bring a bag of chips and call it good (that’s definitely me). I used to work with one nurse that would just go down to the cafeteria, buy a couple orders of hospital fries, and bring that to the potluck. I loved it.

Not only do potlucks help split up your nursing shift a bit and make the holiday feel more celebratory, but they can also be a great time to connect with your nursing coworkers. 

Potlucks allow you and your coworkers to have a shared experience that doesn’t revolve around someone else’s bodily functions. 

Whether or not you are a potluck type of person or not, it could be a lot of fun to organize one with your coworkers to help add a little bit of fun to your holiday nursing shift.

You can even do a themed potluck. For example, you could make a taco bar! Make a signup sheet about a week before and everyone can bring one item to put on the tacos. Have a few people bring different meats (or tofu!), someone bring cheese, another person sour cream, or the tortillas. You get the picture. 

Also, message me if you want the BEST EVER tofu taco recipe.

For the Fourth of July, you could set up a BBQ themed potluck! Make sure that someone brings the apple pie!

If you want to be the ultimate potluck hero, check out this amazing crockpot brand slow cooker.    The Best part is that the lid clamps down, so you don’t have to worry about spilling it everywhere on the way (which I have definitely done). 

3. Add Some Holiday Flair to Your Outfit

Nothing screams holiday spirit more than dressing up! Ok, so I know that generally we have to wear pretty boring scrubs. If your hospital allows you to wear different colored scrubs, then consider yourself lucky!

There are, however, very rare occasions when your hospital might actually let you switch up your usual dress code. I’m sure some nursing jobs won’t let you, but generally hospitals allow their staff to at least wear a costume for Halloween. 

On other holidays, if you aren’t allowed to fully dress up, you would probably be able to wear some accessories!

You can always add a little flair. Some ways to add some flair to your nursing outfit are:

4. Celebrate With Your Patients

The only thing worse than having to work on a holiday, is being hospitalized on a holiday. Remember, that your patients are stuck at the hospital too. 

Especially right now, with many hospitals still maintaining no visitor policies, your patients are probably feeling especially isolated and alone. The hospital is a lonely place and that loneliness is only amplified on holidays.

Holidays are supposed to be a time when family and community come together to spread cheer, love, and, in many cases, hope. Take a little extra time during your shift to sit with your patients.

Make sure to spread a little bit of that love and cheer when you work on a holiday. If you are missing your family, I am sure they are missing their family, too. 

You can always ask what their favorite holiday traditions are. You don’t even have to specifically ask them about that holiday, just ask them about their life and get to know them a little bit.

A little bit of quality time goes a long way.

Remember, that YOU are in control of your attitude and reality.

Yes, it does suck to work on the holidays, but there are so many ways to make your nursing holiday shift a little less sucky! You have the ability to make the holiday shift a little bit more fun for you, your coworkers, and your patients!

What is your favorite holiday to work? I always love working on New Years Eve, because watching fireworks from the 11th floor of the hospital is pretty amazing!

As always, I would love to connect with you on social!

Read Past Posts

How to Make Your Holiday Nursing Shift Less Sucky

I know it sucks working holidays, but read this post for some ideas to make your shift the best it could possibly be!

A Beginner’s Guide to Personal Finance for the New Nurse Part 2

Part two of how the new nurse can figure out their personal finances and feel prepared to be financially responsible.

A Beginner’s Guide to Personal Finance for the New Nurse Part 1

Part one of a two part series discussing how new nurses can dip their toes into investing and how to get their finances together.

How to Fit In and Make Friends at Your First Nursing Job

Read my tips for how to really feel like you belong on your new nursing unit.

How to Make Mistakes and Learn from Them – A Guide for New Nurses

Use this guide to learn about the mistakes I’ve made as a nurse and how I’ve learned from them and moved on. After all, everyone makes mistakes.

Feel Prepared for Your New Grad Nursing Interview – Example Questions and Answers Included!

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Tips for Writing a Great New Nurse Resume – Free Downloadable Resume Template

Read this post to learn how to write a great new graduate nurse resume. Includes a FREE downloadable resume template.

The Best Nursing School Graduation Gifts of 2020

Read this list of the best 2020 nursing school graduation gifts!


Learn more about Dr. Heim’s new tool to prevent burnout – interview included

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Being a new nurse is hard. There are a million things that your brain has to focus on during every shift. It can be easy to forget why you became a nurse in the first place. Keep reading for 3 tips on how to reconnect to your WHY.

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Do you feel exhausted during and after every single shift? Click here to read about 3 tips to help you reduce a little bit of that constant exhaustion.

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