As a Nurse our whole lives revolve round our schedule

by madwife2002 6,604 Views | 16 Comments Senior Moderator

Apart from the patient, what is the next most important thing to a Nurse? Well itís not the uniform, itís not the unsociable hours and itís certainly not the stress of the job. It is time off! We love our time off! We want our days off to be in a row of at least 2 and we want to have every other weekend off.

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    As a Nurse our whole lives revolve round our schedule

    It is time off!

    We love our time off! We want our days off to be in a row of at least 2 and we want to have every other weekend off.

    We donít want to work every holiday, every weekend and every Friday night week in and week out!

    Nursing used to be one of the few professions which worked 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, now that has changed with stores opening 24/7, opening 365 days a year they have joined our ranks of serving our customers all the time.

    So in order to get this time off we make requests, but in some places requests are limited to 1 a week. Some places are more generous.

    Requests are not always granted, but we hope they get approved.

    When I was a student nurse (yep back when Florence Nightingale was walking around with a lamp) our tutor on our very first clinical, took us to the ward and introduced us to a book! This was the scheduling book and it told us when, where and what time we would be working for the next 8 weeks.

    The tutor also told us that it was the most read book on any ward in any hospital in the world.
    We thought she was crazy because at that time the reality had not set in!

    Little did we know our whole lives would revolve around the schedule!
    Not only does it tell us which day we are working but it tells us who we are working with! We know by just looking at the schedule what sort of day we are going to have, and we are able to predict if it is going to be a great, good, bad or really bad shift before we even step foot in the building-just by checking the schedule!

    I know I have checked to see who is working with me on more than one occasion! I have also checked to see who I am following because I know with certainty which RN's leave me with chaos to sort out!

    I have also checked the schedule to see who is following me to know if I can do a quick report or if I will be late off because they will be late in or want to know a blow by blow account of each pt's day.

    Self scheduling is practiced in some hospital and health care facilities, this can work really well until every single member of staff puts themselves down to work the Thursday but nobody and I mean nobody wants to work the Friday.

    This year where I work when requesting holidays off we put 1st, 2nd or 3rd for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year.

    Everybody and I mean everybody bar an odd one wants Christmas off, so scheduling around these vacations is a nightmare.

    Some of the staff believe they should get what they want off because they have worked there the longest. Some of the staff believe that they should get it off because they have children. Some staff believe they miss out on Christmas every year because they donít have children.

    So how should it be worked out fairly? I found when scheduling this year that the 1st, 2nd and 3rd request worked well.

    A graph was made to show how the holidays were equally divided. Staff like it and feel they got what they wanted and they could see quickly how fairly it worked.

    In previous years we have scheduled people to how they worked the previous year, so if they worked Christmas in 2010 then they were off Christmas 2011.

    This is a fair way but still caused friction, by doing the new way, linking in Thanksgiving and giving the staff their schedule early has made them happy and to be honest this is the first time in years I have made them happy with their holiday schedule.

    Oh yeah and we blew up the schedule in a huge poster so everybody could see how it worked very clearly

    Now I have to work out how on earth I make everybody happy for HALLOWEEN and that is only next week!!!
    Last edit by Joe V on Oct 27, '12
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    madwife2002 joined Jan '05 - from 'Ohio'. madwife2002 has '24' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'RN, RM, BSN'. Posts: 9,476 Likes: 5,209; Learn more about madwife2002 by visiting their allnursesPage


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    16 Comments so far...

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    I think seniority should play a part for other holidays, but Christmas, I think needs to be divided evenly. If you're off one year, then you'll be working next year, etc. Seniority should play a part in other holidays, like the most senior nurses can be off on t-giving, but there at least has to be someone there who has a clue on how to run the unit, too.

    I don't think the most senior nurses should have to work as many weekends as newer nurses, maybe every 3rd weekend or something like that. Now, if there are some that don't celebrate Christmas, then they can volunteer to give up that day in exchange for another holiday off.
    workingmama77 likes this.
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    I agree, it needs to be fair. If you work Christmas one year, you'll be off the next year; etc. The census is usually pretty low on the holidays so chances are you will be either on call or get called off. We also have coworkers who will offer to work the holidays for us. Getting time off where I work is actually easier than I thought it was. I put in my request off for the week of Thanksgiving a week before the schedule came out and I got my time off....I'm working Christmas Eve & Christmas Day. I was off for both last year so I figured I would pay my dues and work this year.
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    holidays should be rotated seniority or not imo. then there is night shift. i think i somehow work thanksgiving, christmas and new years eve. oh well . i am not a night shifter that likes to switcy my schedule or sleep 4 hrs only. so if i work the night before i will be sleeping all of next day christmas or not
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    you raised some really good points in this post. I see time and time again totallly unfair scheduling.
    Some people NEVER have to work a friday.
    I have to agree, people who DON'T have kids, are expected to pick up the slack.
    I guess the most fair way is to rotate holidays..no exceptions.
    but easier SAID than DONE !!!
    workingmama77, Fiona59, and madwife2002 like this.
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    Our blank holiday schedule is posted several months in advance. The DON divides the number of shift openings by the number of employees and tells everyone how many holiday shifts they need to sign up for. This year we all have to work 2 shifts between Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve and New Years Day. Everyone just signs up for what they want. We have never had a shift not covered and we never have (too much) griping over who is working what.

    Technically our policy states if you work a holiday one year, you have it off the next but as long as we are all willing to work together to cover the schedule, our DON lets us set our own days.

    The remaining holidays (Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day), we stick a little more to the "if you worked it last year, you have it off this year". That said, there are some people that don't mind working them and some that hate working them. It all seems to work out in the end. As a side note, we have NO holiday pay. Holidays are paid just like any other day.
    madwife2002 likes this.
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    Our nurses are on twelve hour shifts. They are required to work every other weekend, but it turns out to be three weekend days a month (we have some nurses for personal reasons prefer to work only weekends). Our holiday schedule goes like this: You must schedule yourself for an eve and day (Xmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve, New Years Day) and I'm happy to report it works about 99% of the time. If there is a scheduling conflict, we look back to the year before. Our assistant nurse managers are required to schedule themselves the same way. Ten year plus staff are given the option in January to pick three holidays they would like off, schedule permitting, and that also works. Some of the veterans use their requests for summer holidays, Halloween (which obviously is not a hospital holiday but to insure they are off they use it).
    The hospital needs to be staffed 24/7 holidays included and I include this during interview with an explanation of how we try to be fair. Many applicants are surprised stating they thought they'd be scheduled all the holidays the first few years. I explain that we need a mix of experience so that isn't the case.
    madwife2002 likes this.
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    Madwife.... I so can remember the shift book and the 4-8 weeks schedule going up so we could tell if we was working mornings, afternoons or nights weekends off was a bonus but one manager was good and we generally worked one weekend in three. Now where I work here in Canada I know my schedule for the year with only change is 2 weeks over the christmas and new year
    madwife2002 likes this.
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    Just a thought on those without kids not wanting to work holidays....I live 250 miles from my family. They do not travel (little kids/fire department shifts, older kids involved with Thanksgiving day sports (football)....so if I dont travel, I have the holiday alone...yes, there are many folks who would be more than glad to have me but it is not the same. So it is not just the person without kids being selfish....sometimes they are far lonlier than you know.
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    As a Jewish nurse, I volunteered for nearly every Christmas eve and Christmas Day for many, many years. While my family was off from school and work, I was at work, or on-call. But I had to beg for my own holidays off, using my paid time off to cover them when I could even get them off. I cannot recall one single time that anyone ever volunteered to work those days for me, even refusing to switch a weekday off, like a Wednesday for a Thursday.

    One year I was forced to work on Yom Kippur (our holiest day) because no one would switch.

    Unfortunately for all of us in 24/7 occupations, holidays are part and parcel of what is expected. I only ever wanted New Year's eve off when I was single!

    There are ways that seem more fair than others for scheduling, but those who are at work need to make the best of it, no matter what.
    Fiona59 and madwife2002 like this.


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