A Holiday Survival Guide for Travel Nurses
For some nurses, Christmas isn’t the most wonderful time of the year. A quarter of Americans work over the holidays, but for travel nurses, spending time away from home can be seriously stressful. Living in a different city, staff shortages, long hours — all of these things take the fun out of the festive period. If you’re an OR nurse, emergency nurse, or specialize in a different field, and you are working over the holidays, read this survival guide.
1. How to Cope with Not Seeing Your Family
As a travel nurse, you might have to work over the holidays in a hospital in a different city, miles away from your home. Spending time away from your family can be difficult at any time of the year, but during the holidays, this can really sting.
You can always celebrate the holidays with your family another time, though. Why not postpone Christmas Day until when you return home? You can still exchange gifts and enjoy a glass of eggnog — just on a different day.
Make sure you have plenty of contact with your family when you are not on shift. Regular phone calls and emails will help alleviate any feelings of homesickness. If things get tough, stick it out, and remember, your contract will eventually come to an end. Your patients, on the other hand, might spend weeks — or even months — lying in a hospital bed.
“Although you may miss your family, you can eventually walk out the door. Cultivating empathy for your patients’ plight is an important act of compassion,” says Vanessa, a Stability travel nurse in Oakland, CA.
2. Create Your Own Celebrations
You won’t be the only one spending time away from your family during the holidays. Talk to your colleagues if you feel homesick, and spend time with patients. Like you, they would rather be at home.
Combat your holiday blues by creating your own celebrations. Bring your favorite holiday snacks — candy canes, fruitcake, lots of chocolate, etc. — to work and share them with your colleagues and patients. You can also decorate your work-space and make it more homely. A few decorations and a miniature Christmas tree will add some festive cheer to any hospital interior. Exchange gifts with other medical staff, too.
“Play some music, hang some decorations, eat some gingerbread men,” says Erik, a Stability travel nurse in Torrance, CA.. “After all, it’s still the holiday season and your profession is nursing — caring for others is very much in the holiday spirit.”
3. Think of the Financial Benefits
If you are working over the holidays, you will likely miss important family events. However, you can make up for it by taking a family vacation after the festive season. Typically, it’s cheaper to travel after the holidays, so you’ll get more bang for your buck.
As a traveling nurse, you might receive more money during the holidays, too. Depending on the organization you work for, you could receive double time pay.
If you are open to working the holiday season, you will be able to cash in on some great holiday rates (typically 1.5 to 2 times your typical hourly travel pay).
As a travel nurse, working during the holidays is tough. You will be away from family, work long shifts and miss important events. Postponing your Christmas plans, creating your own celebrations and thinking of all the financial benefits, however, will make this time of the year a little bit easier.