Working through the holidays?

Nurses General Nursing


Hi, I'm an ADN student and I have a question about your work schedules. My son is only 1 years old and it would kill me (ok not really lol) to have to work Christmas day. Does everyone have to work holidays? Do they offer some sort of incentive to try to get people to work on a holiday and then assign work if there's not enough volunteers? Do they rotate holidays? I never really considered the whole Christmas thing. This will not deter my choice to become a nurse because this is what I really want to do, but it might put a small damper on it, you know? Thanks for your thoughts.



329 Posts

Specializes in Geriatrics, DD, Peri-op.

All I can say is that it depends on where you work. If you work in a doc's office, health dept, or school...then you would be off. But, at the places that I have worked (hospital and nursing homes) we have to work holidays. However, our bosses will usually try to rotate. So, if I worked Christmas last year then I would be off this year.

Yeah, it son fusses about it all the time, but such is life when you choose this profession...and, people don't just get sick on M-F 8-5.

Hope that helps a little. :)


285 Posts

I work in the OR, which is not Level 1 Trauma, so on major holidays we are off. We do have people on call, which gets rotated or some people volunteer for it for the extra money. But if you are off, you must take it as a personal/vacation day off, so I always make sure I have plenty of hours accumulated in my account.



68 Posts

Depending on what type of job you obtain while nursing most agency nursing it is not required you tell them when you want to work! As a nurse you will have many options to take what is convient for you!


Again depending on where you work determines if you work holidays. Some people who work 7on/7off get lucky, some do not. Keep in mind if you work 7on/7off and you work the week of July 4th, you will work Thanksgiving and Christmas, but you are off labor day,memorial day and new yrs. The hosp that I work at decided forever ago, that if you work 7on/7off you work the holidays that falls on your week on. I have seen some rotate the holidays.

TiffyRN, BSN, PhD

2,315 Posts

Specializes in Nurse Scientist-Research.

I've worked at several hospitals and they usually try to rotate folks for holidays. However; it is USUALLY safe to say that new to hospital (whether new grad or new employee) will probably have to work the short end of the stick. My husband and I both being nurses we have simply redefined holidays and generally celebrate Christmas on either the 23rd or 26th. My step-children have not minded as long as they got to have Christmas. I have never worked anywhere where they insisted anyone work both 24th and 25th of December. I learned from some PBS show that Boxing Day (Dec. 26th) was the day when English servants traditionally celebrated Christmas so this sort of thing has been going on a long time.

Unfortunately working holidays is a reality for most nurses (those who work in 24hr facilities anyway). Fortunately this year many of the local celebrations for 4th of July are actually taking place on the 3rd to coincide with Saturday I guess: therefore, my husband and I will be able to attend 4th of July celebrations without it "counting". See many hospitals also track how many holidays you work in a year sometimes subclassifying them as summer and winter holidays.

I've seen more than one new nurse literally crying when they realized they would have to be away from family on a given holiday. It's best to know about this reality before finishing school and taking your first job.

Katnip, RN

2,904 Posts

Our hospital rotates holidays. If you work Thanksgiving one year, you are off Christmas, and have to work New Year's. The next year you have to switch and have Thanksgiving and New Year's off but work Christmas (at the place I just left you Christmas means Eve and Day are required).

Sometimes you can find people who don't care about working Christmas and would rather have New Year's off, but that isn't something you can always count on.

Most hospitals I've seen, unless you're going to work surgery require rotating holidays.


303 Posts

I have worked in hospitals my entire career. All of them have required one to schedule two out of the three major holidays; Chrismtas, Thanksgiving, New Year's. Some have considered other holiday's as major holidays as well and those one would rotate; one year on/next off.

Specializes in Emergency Room.

we work every other holiday so that way everyone has a chance to spend one or the other with family. working holidays is something people should really consider before they pursue nursing because most people do hospital bedside nursing when first coming out of school. i worked with a nurse that quit nursing after two years because she missed thanksgiving and xmas with her kids. i felt sorry for her, but she knew that working holidays were a requirement. most people can make it work for them. if you work days you at least have the rest of the day to spend with family and if you work pm's or nights, you can open presents early.

Specializes in CCU (Coronary Care); Clinical Research.

At the hospital that I work in, if you are scheduled to work the holiday, you work...however, we do all fill out a form with the major holidays on them and we have first, second, and third choices for requests off...we can usually get our first choice off even if scheduled to work...there are people that ***** every year but there has to be staff to work too...Just check out how the facilities that you are planning to work in plan their staffing for these times...As others have said...I know many families that celebrate the day before or after...if you work nights it is usually not too much of an issue unless you have a special event at night (like my family does!!)

kae rn

50 Posts

Working holidays is part of the health care career. As much as we would like to be with our families, so would our patients. It took me a few years to understand this. When my kids were young, it was hardest on me. Children don't realize what holiday tradition is all about. But as they got older, the holiday was harder on them. This last Christmas, all 4 of my kids waited until 5pm to open their gifts. They visited me at lunch (brought lunch), and saw how much more unfortunate they could be. I think it helps build character, my kids are soooooo caring. It is up to us parents to build that. It is the best gift that we could ever give them.

Tweety, BSN, RN

33,525 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

The time is now, while your son is only one year old to teach him that mommy is a nurse and has to work on holidays. I understand, Christmas is all about little kids in my opinion and if I had them I would greatly desire to be home with them.

We come out with a preference list and we ask in preference which of the three major holidays we want off. Then if there aren't enough people who sign up to work Xmas, or any of the holidays around that time, then we look to see who worked it last year and give preference to them. Newbies tend to have to work Xmas their first year.

I feel strongly that having children should have no bearing on whether or not a person is offered the holiday off or not.

That said, I volunteer to work every Xmas and since I've been a nurse have taken only one Xmas off. I have no kids and my birth family is 1000 miles away.

Good luck in getting it off. It never hurts to ask for it off and everywhere is different.

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