Happy Holidays to everyone! I spent a lot of time with family, relaxing in pajamas, and eating a lot of delicious food – probably not the best for my body but so good for my soul. My family doesn’t buy a lot of presents for each other, which makes Christmas a welcome chance to unwind and take it easy. Giving gifts is not my love language either, so I love the mental break I get at my family’s Christmas, where there’s no pressure to buy. (But I do remember the excitement of opening presents as a kid – there’s really nothing quite like it.)
Working During the Holidays
Since I work in an outpatient office, I have all major holidays off work. At noon on Christmas Eve, I said goodbye to my coworkers and headed home to my family, ready to don my reindeer footie pajamas and cozy up by the fireplace. I love the fact that I can spend holidays with those that I love rather than work. I cherish the time I have with my loved ones. I also think the holidays seem that much more special and magical because I get to experience a break from work. It’s almost like I’ve been given permission to experience the joy of the season. It is a gift of a day.
Many of my fellow nurses don’t have the luxury of having regular schedules, not to mention guaranteed holidays off. Typically, nurses will be required to work a certain number of holidays per year.
For example, my best friend worked Thanksgiving this year, so she had Christmas off to fly home and visit family. Last year, this same friend had Thanksgiving off and worked Christmas Eve and Christmas. The hospital always needs staff working, and sanctioned holidays do not change the fact that acutely ill patients are still suffering.
For those who must work on the holidays and miss the traditions they so enjoy, it can be isolating and lonely.
On the other hand, I have a friend who always requests to work on Christmas because she dreads her family’s annual get-togethers. Working on Christmas gives her an excuse to avoid the painful hours of present-opening and awkward hugs with cousins who she hasn’t seen or talked to since last Christmas.
She welcomes the chance to selflessly give cheer to her patients, who seem more like family than her blood relatives. This is definitely not my story, but this friend considers her work as a nurse at Christmas the best scenario possible. (This nurse also never fails to mention that she gets paid a solid differential to work a holiday that no one else wants to, so it’s worth it in her eyes).
Nurses who work at Christmas: thank you. I am grateful for the work that you do and continue to do regardless of the fabricated calendar festivities. Regardless of whether or not you do or do not want to work on a holiday, your actions are so highly valued.
I want to change gears just a little bit here because I have a few other thoughts swirling around in my brain.
If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you will know that I work in an outpatient allergy and asthma clinic with an amazing doctor, spunky co-nurse, and wise receptionist. I’ve been in this specific office for almost four months now, and it’s been a wild ride.
I was a float nurse before taking this position, so it’s been an adjustment to come to one place, day after day, work with the same people, and develop long term relationships with patients who are managing lifelong conditions.
When you work with the same people every day, you start to form deep relationships as you work through difficult circumstances together. Some days in the office are going to be better than others.
Hard situations arise. Mistakes are made. Daily office life undulates up and down like a roller coaster, but it is the way in which my coworkers and I respond to the obstacles that determine our long-term trajectory.
I want to quickly highlight some key relational characteristics that greatly influence a long-term positive work environment (based on my recent experiences in my office),
Mistakes are inevitable: we are human! The most natural response towards others when they make a mistake it to start the blame game, when in fact there will be a time when you might need similar forgiveness and grace after you make a mistake. The resounding “do unto others as you would have them do to you” is echoing in my mind as I write this.
When you personally make a mistake, speak up and own it. When you’ve fostered an environment of grace, it’s a whole lot easier, to be honest about your personal mistakes. This doesn’t just apply within coworker relationships, but also with patients. Patients appreciate being treated like adults with respect and giving them an honest situation is one way to do that.
Working in the same office over weeks and months, there will be days where your personal life comes with you to work. One of my coworkers is a single mom, and she has to do all the parenting stuff on her own which is difficult on so many levels.
Another one of my coworkers broke up with her boyfriend recently, and that was a hard couple of days at the office. During my marathon training, I would sometimes come in to work really struggling to keep up my energy. The beautiful thing about working with the same people over time is how the others surround and lift up whoever is struggling.
As difficulties arise in each of our lives, we act as encouragers for whoever is in need.
I feel a little like this blog was all over the place. That’s kind of how my mind is right now, in the midst of holidays and family time and many difficult patient situations all at once…it’s a mess of joy and frustration wrapped up in a bow. What a fitting metaphor for the Christmas season.
Morgan is a new Nursing graduate living in Boulder, Colorado. She shares her insight and advice on the nursing profession.