A nurse reflects on what working on Christmas means, and the compromises that we have to make on this special day.
I was having a think the other day when asked what nurses do at Christmas and I realised that the biggest thing we do is compromise. From what I hear, most nursing shift work roles have a work one or the other policy over Christmas and New Year but it seems to vary as to what the various area consider “working”.
Personally, I believe that an evening or night on Christmas Eve and then any shift on Christmas Day should be considered working and an evening or night New Year’s Eve and a morning shift New Year’s Day. I am sure we all have varying opinions on what you would say “working” should include. I also believe that the reasons we have that opinion relates strongly with the our own holiday activities.
I have had to re-evaluate my beliefs this year because I am now working 12 hour shifts, and whilst I would never have considered working a day shift on New Year’s Eve as “working” the new year, I now finish work at 8 pm and I have about 45 minutes travel home. So, that being the case I will most likely miss my annual ritual of the 9 pm fireworks with my son and friends.
As nurses, we don’t have the luxury of having every public holiday off work and sometimes it is hard for our families and friends to understand why it is that we have to work. I do often think when I hear nurses complain about it that they knew what they were getting into when they took on the role of a 24-hr job, but the people we care about didn’t.
Should people with children get Christmas off and work New Year? I don’t think so, and I am a mother. I believe that everyone is someone’s family and that whether or not we chose to spend it with our family, I think we all have equal rights to a fair share of holiday time.
What do they do on your ward? Is there a system that works well?