Working the holidays as a nurse

December 22, 2016

When I first decided to become a nurse, it was way before I even thought of settling down with a man or the possibility of starting a family. So having to work the holidays was nothing serious. Now starting a family is not going to happen anytime soon, but it has crossed my mind. This year I was lucky to have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off. I am not sure how all hospitals do it, but I was required to work one major eve and one major day. For me, this was Thanksgiving and New Years Eve.

Working Thanksgiving was not as bad as I thought it would be. I was able to cut my nap short for night shift and enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with my family. I also had a very sweet coworker whose family brought us a buffet of food. Even though only six nurses were working that night. We were pretty slow. 

Had I been chosen to work Christmas, I would be heartbroken. For me, Christmas is the best season. I love cuddling on the couch all day watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel and drinking hot cocoa. There is just something about the season that makes me want to stay home, and I can tell at work that everyone feels the same way. 

Nursing is a 24-hour job and the holidays are no exception. So here is how to enjoy working the holidays:

  • Plan a potluck for you and you co-workers: Everyone loves the holiday food and just because you are working does not mean you should miss out on it. Schedule ahead of time to have everyone bring in a special treat to share. 
  • Share gifts: Having a small secret Santa at work while working the holidays might put you in a better mood. Plus, you can make it $5 or $10. 
  • Add something festive to your attire: Just because you are at work does not mean you cannot add a festive badge reel, holiday scrub top, or even just some non-traditional necklaces and earrings. Anything to add a little pep to your step.
  • Set aside family time: Working the holidays is not something last minute. Decide with your family when you all can do something special together to celebrate. Plus you won't feel like you are missing out on stuff.
  • Be proud to work: Change your attitude before beginning your shift. Think of how truly amazing it is that you get to care for these individuals on such a special day. Think of them as your extended family. Trust me, they do not want to be there either for the holidays. 
Hope this helps!


  1. Hi Megan, I am a nurse as well and I couldn't agree with you more! I especially liked the idea of adjusting ones attitude before starting the day. It is easy to get caught up in the routine of work/completing tasks and forget that patients have families too or other places they'd rather be. Where I work, my co-workers spare no events for potlucks and it always feels good to share mealtimes with others.

  2. Megan, I feel like I could have written this post because I feel the same way! I have never had to work Christmas which I am so grateful for but I know the day is coming and it makes me so sad to think about. I LOVE the holidays and never really considered what it would be like to work them, especially when/if I am to have children! I know things will work out one way or another and kids are coming no time soon but it is a sad thought. However, I love your tips for turning your attitude into a positive one!


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