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5 Things to Expect on a Holiday Shift Working as a nurse in a hospital, you have better odds of going on an excursion to the moon than you do not working on a holiday. You may be lucky enough to get some holidays off, as this often depends on seniority, or covering every other holiday. Whatever the case may be for your medical facility, you are going to work some holidays, so you may as well have an idea of what to expect. Expect the Unexpected You may as well not even spend a lot of time trying to expect what may happen, because as soon as you think you know, you are proven wrong. Holidays in general can create a tremendous amount of turmoil in people’s lives, and it often ends up in a hospital visit. Elective surgeries are rarely scheduled around the actual holiday, so most hospitalized patients are there due to an emergency, or a recovery situation. Holidays seem to bring out bizarre behaviors in some people, so if you are scheduled for a holiday, just be sure to eat a nutritious meal ahead of time, as it could be a while before you can have a meal break. Go to work with an open mind that whatever happens, you will deal with it, and everything will be ok. Related: How to Be the Most Efficient Nursing Student Patients Suffering from Depression During the months of November and December, more people suffer from depression than any other times during the year. For many people that do not have families or close friends, the holidays can be a very lonely time. Combine that with being hospitalized, and you may find a patient that is experiencing the height of loneliness and depression. As the patient lies in their room, and hears holiday celebrations in the halls of the hospital, it does not cheer them up. Since holidays are not usually as busy on hospital floors, and there are less patients, perhaps it’s possible to spend a little extra time with the patients that are noticeably depressed. You don’t even need to mention the holiday, just visiting and sharing a friendly conversation may be enough to lessen their feelings of being all alone. Do what you can to make your patients comfortable and at ease, however also accept the fact that some people always experience depression during holidays, and it may be something that the patient deals with often. They’re very well may be nothing you can do


besides being there for your patient when they need you. Always alert the attending physician if the patient appears to be severely depressed, or refuses to eat, they may need a medication adjustment. Expect Some Holiday Cheer When you work a holiday, especially over Christmas, you may have some special holiday celebrations on the floor that you are covering. Some families that have loved ones hospitalized may bring snacks or other foods for the medical staff, mainly to show their appreciation for the care of their loved one. So, in these instances, you may decide working on a holiday is not so bad after all. People are usually more generous during the holiday season, and that can mean with their time as well. You may see more volunteers than usual, and some even come on the holiday itself to offer Christmas cheer, or similar, depending on the holiday itself. More Relaxed Atmosphere The one thing hospitals have in common on an actual holiday is a more relaxed atmosphere. Of course, this does not necessarily apply to an emergency department; however on other floors things can be much quieter than normal. You may have time to catch up on work projects that are behind. Once work projects are caught up and you are between patient visits, it can be a nice time to interact with coworkers. Things are often so busy it’s difficult to get to know coworkers, even though you work with them daily. A holiday brings out the socialization in most people, and will allow you to converse with others that you don’t normally have a chance to. Appreciation from Supervisor It’s not always easy to arrange coverage for holidays, even in a hospital. It's pretty common that many people request holidays off, and are not very happy about it when they don’t get it. So if you volunteer to work a holiday, your supervisor is certainly going to appreciate you offering, and the fact that there is one less open position to fill. There are some benefits to working a holiday, often holiday pay is applicable, and of course the quieter surroundings make for an easier and less hectic shift that you are accustomed to. If a time comes that you need a day off, your supervisor is likely to remember you covered a holiday shift, and have proven to be a valuable and cooperative employee. Related: What does a Diabetes Nurse Do? Naturally, one of the benefits of working a holiday is that you can be there for your patients. As the nurse, you may be one of the only people that the


patient has contact with. You will be able to provide the routine care, and perhaps spend a few minutes visiting and getting to know each patient, something you would not have time for on a regular working shift. A holiday is what you make of it, and in most cases, you can acknowledge and celebrate a holiday a day early, a day late, or a different time of the day itself, depending on when your shift is. When you accept a position as a nurse, it’s an automatic assumption that holiday work will be involved, so it’s not a surprise to learn you will be working a holiday. Try to make the best of it, sometimes a cheerful mood can be contagious to others that are not pleased to be at work. If you are working the emergency department on a holiday, you may encounter a busier shift than usual. Between holiday lights, new toys, and fireplaces going at full speed, the Christmas holiday in general can generate some emergency room visits. The following are some statistics of common incidents during holidays in emergency departments. •Each year, there is an estimated average of 60 electrocutions associated with consumer products. The three most common product categories associated with electrocutions are small appliance, power tool, and lighting equipment. •Every year in the U.S., more than 2,600 people are killed in home fires. •In the U.S., injury is the leading cause of death among children and young adults, and nearly half of these accidents occur in the home, and the toll rises during the Christmas holiday season. According to the National Safety Council. •Worldwide, accidental injury kills more than 2,000 children each and every day. New go karts, bicycles, skateboards, all common Christmas gifts can bring catastrophe to an entire family. •On average, 184 people die each year from non-fire, carbon monoxide poisoning associated with consumer products. The two most common product categories associated with non-fire carbon monoxide deaths are engine-driven tools (38%) and heating systems (38%). •In 2004-2008, an estimated 1,170 home fires per year began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees. These fires caused an annual average of 8 deaths, 54 injuries, and $19.1 million in property damage. •Christmas tree and holiday decoration fires result in twice the injuries and 5 times more fatalities per fire than the average winter holiday fire.


•On average, 260 home fires begin with Christmas trees each year, resulting in 12 deaths, 24 injuries and $16.4 million in property damage. •An additional 150 home fires per year begin with holiday lights and other decorative lighting, causing another 8 deaths, 16 injuries, and $8.9 million in property damage each year. •Candles started 45% of home decoration fires. •December is the peak time of year for candle fires. •Christmas, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Day are the top 3 days of the year for candle fires. •Roughly 5,800 people per year were treated in hospital emergency rooms for falls associated with holiday decorations. More than half of these injuries were caused by falls from ladders or roofs while decorating outdoors. •CPSC estimates that each year, about 4,000 injuries associated with electric extension cords are treated in hospital emergency rooms. 50% of these injuries involve fractures, lacerations, contusions, or sprains from people tripping over extension cords. 13% of these injuries involve children less than five years of age; electrical burns to the mouth accounted for 50% of the injuries to young children. Depending on what department you work in, your holidays at work may be uneventful. Of course as a nurse, you know to always expect the unexpected, since it's part of being a great nurse.

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5 Things to Expect on a Holiday Shift