How To Survive and Thrive During the Holiday Season As a Travel Nurse

Rick Martinez

Or basically how not to be a Grinch.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Thanksgiving or Christmas is one of the hottest questions around.

Meaning, if you're a travel nurse, then likely your unit, manager, or coworkers are asking you which one you'll work and which you'll take off.

So yep, it's here...the holiday season. The funny thing is that we nurses all feel something different around this time of the year. Like me, some of us absolutely love it and can't wait for all the season brings. Others are more "meh," and even others see the almighty dollar as we look forward to holiday pay.

Most of my coworkers and I have learned to make arrangements for the required holiday days ahead of time, and working on them doesn't seem so bad when we plan ahead. What I mean is, you know you'll have to choose one, so think about it well ahead of time.

And for all my new or new-ish travel nurses, keep reading for some travel tips on how to navigate what I think is the most beautiful time of the year.

You're gonna have to work one, so pick it in advance

Unless your nurse manager or scheduler had a brain fart and forgot you, as a travel nurse, you can certainly expect to work one of the winter holidays. The good thing is that you'll generally know ow well in advance, so you can plan accordingly.

Christmas Day is likely the one most nurses want off, so if your unit only allows you one choice, then go with Thanksgiving Day off. My reason is that as a traveler, I feel totally blessed to be able to see the country and make above-average money, so I choose to pay it forward to my fellow RNs.

And just in case you do have to work on that particular day, consider taking some time off beforehand or after to make it up or to recover.

I like to remind folks that the most essential element of the holidays is spending time with loved ones, even if those loved ones are your fellow nurses or travel nurses.

And if it so happens you don't get your first choice off, then just remember there are a couple more in the pipeline. After Thanksgiving, there's Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and of course, New Year!

After decades of nursing, I think we all come to know and understand that we must take care of our patients as nurses.

Chew on this

Nurses and travel nurses have to realize that we will be working on the holidays no matter what, so let's make the most of it. Every place I've worked has a potluck at Thanksgiving and Christmastime, and they're fun and friendship-filled. On some units and assignments, we've even done Secret Santa gift exchanges.

Hey, look on the (kinda) bright side. Working a shift over the holiday may give you a break from cooking or preparing a massive meal for the fam.

One of the most fantastic things I've experienced in unit potlucks is the wide variety of food and side dishes I've got to taste.

Show me the money

Let's be honest for a sec here. Holiday pay is often a nice incentive to spend it on shift.

Being kind of an introvert, I've enjoyed working the holiday, so I can have a day off where everyone else is going back to work. And when holiday pay or even double time is on the table, well, I'll take a seat there most anytime.

Plus, think about travel. Fewer crowds, less hassle, and perhaps even better fares.

It's a total win-win situation.

The only way to avoid having to work a holiday shift as a travel nurse is if you choose to take those few months off, or you have a phat bank account and don't need to work. Otherwise, travel RNs' staff nurses and PRN shifters will nearly always have to pitch in on one or more of these days.

Take the holidays to heart

Long story short, as a travel nurse working the holidays, it is inevitable.

This is why it's sooo important to like the people you work with; they will become your second family and home. Complaining about working on holidays only makes you appear like one of those old, crabby, complaining nurses. Keep in mind that the rest of the world has to work five days a week, while we only have to work three!

And if that doesn't make you smile a bit, then maybe you're part Grinch. ; )

The final word

If you're a travel nurse, the holidays do not have to be complicated.

The good thing is that this time of year can be as rewarding as it is challenging for those who know how to make the most of it. This article has provided some advice on things like taking your first choice off or working a second choice and finding its joy.

And finally, we looked at some ways travel RNs have made the most out of their holiday assignments by thinking creatively about how they could enjoy themselves with their nursing coworkers on shift.

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I'm a freelance writer and a nurse, exploring the world one beer, donut, and experience at a time. Writing about the travel nurse industry and healthcare, with the occasional emphasis on donuts. #NomNom

San Antonio, TX
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