It can be tough spending the holidays working 12 hours when many of your loved ones are enjoying some time off cozied up indulging in delicious food + cocktails, watching floating cartoons traipse down New York City streets knowing that their biggest concern is which football game to put on the big screen during post-meal naps. As health care workers, we have a duty to care for others that also don’t get to be at home on the holidays - and that can come with some mixed emotions- so we’ve compiled some recommendations on how to make the most of working the holidays.
Be a light in someone else’s holiday.
While having to work may not necessarily be the way you hoped on spending your holiday, you are surrounded by patients that likely don’t have a choice of where to be this holiday season. These days are especially tough on many patients and their families and as able-bodied nurses we are able to provide them holiday cheer they don’t expect but very much appreciate. Something as small as sitting with a patient while they enjoy their cafeteria Thanksgiving meal or working with volunteers to deliver donated gifts to a pediatric unit can be such a joy in your holiday season and provide a gentle reminder to appreciate what you are thankful for in your own life.
As a pediatric nurse, I loved the opportunity to work with Child Life to ‘play’ Santa. Kids so easily find joy and awe in the simple things despite not feeling well or getting to spend Christmas in a more traditional way.
Bond with your coworkers.
Holidays in the hospital can feel desolate - with many of the “non-essential” staff out of office. This time can help you get build stronger relationships with the people that are alongside you on these days. Some things that may help in this:
- Have a unit potluck to share dishes and enjoy a yummy out-of-the-ordinary mid-shift meal
- Make a point to discuss what you’re thankful for in morning huddle, shift handoff, or in the break room
- Plan to wear holiday scrub tops, badge reels, or props (if allowed)
Find another time to celebrate with your loved ones outside of work.
If you’re able to squeeze in a few days before or after the holidays to participate in some celebrations, you can get your own taste of the season + not feel completely “left out” by having to work on the holiday.
Favorite Potluck Recipes:
Show up with one of these hits to your work potluck or Friendsgiving and you’re sure to be a hit!
- Green Bean Casserole (a simple classic!)
- Fried Mashed Potato Balls (pro tip: used leftover mashed potatoes from one of your Thanksgiving celebrations to make these for another!)
- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- Boston Market’s Sweet Potato Casserole (for a delicious ready-made dish when you’re in travel nurse housing with limited kitchen supplies!)
- Dinner Rolls
- Cranberry Crumb Bars
- Chocolate Pecan Pie
- Mini Pumpkin Pies
While working Christmas in the hospital doesn’t sound like an ideal way to spend a holiday otherwise traditionally reserved for rest and family time, it’s incredibly humbling and gratifying - two feelings that couldn’t be more apropos for the holidays. The opportunity to care for a patient and their family during this time allows for deep connection and bonding, both with them and with co-workers. It makes you especially grateful for what and who you have, especially your health!