For many nurses and allied professionals, the holidays can be a hectic time. Balancing normal working hours with travel plans and holiday planning is complicated, and often very stressful. Not to mention that “late season holidays” are usually the busiest time of year for most hospitals and clinics. Working in healthcare is tough all year round, but it’s especially tough during the holiday season. 

For one thing, healthcare facilities don’t have the luxury of being able to shut down for the week. This means that nurses and allied pros are often required to work during Christmas, Hanukkah, and other winter holidays. Especially for first year nurses, this presents a struggle. It may be the first time they aren’t able to spend the holidays with family and friends outside of work. 

Medely wants to prepare our nurses and allied pros for this upcoming season of winter festivities. Between work, holidays, and good old wintertime blues, this time of year is hard. But your wellbeing is also important. In this article, we’ll share what we’ve learned about how to function as a nurse during the holiday season. 

Plan your schedule far in advance. 

Getting certain days off can make a huge difference for you in maintaining a balance between life and work. Depending on the type of facility you work at, this may or may not be an important thing to think about. Outpatient clinics might give their staff ample time off around the holidays, while hospitals need to maintain a healthy patient-nurse ratio during the holidays. You should plan accordingly, depending on where you work, and what their plans for December may be. 

Getting time off in healthcare can sometimes be tricky, especially for newer nurses who are lower down the seniority chain. Swapping shifts is easier to do, and may also help you build pragmatic relationships with your colleagues. Start having these conversations early so you can find someone who might be willing to trade shift with you. And different holidays happen at different times of the month. So see if you can find a coworker who celebrates differently than you to take your shift. It might be easiest to ask your Christmas-celebrating coworker to swap you for your Hanukkah schedule. Whatever you plan to do, do it early.

And don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work you’re doing, someone will be willing to help you out. Whether that’s taking over lobby decorations, running samples to the lab for you, or offering you a shoulder to cry on. This time of year is a little rough for everyone, and you deserve to be cared for.

How Medely can help with your holiday planning. 

The Medely platform empowers nurses to work when they want, and fit their schedules around a busy or adventurous lifestyle. Medely encourages a healthy work-life balance, and with Medely in your toolkit, you’re always in charge. 

Know what there is to gain about working the holiday season.

As difficult as working over the holidays can be, there are some definite benefits as well. These include:

Extra pay.

For full-time employees, most hospitals and clinics offer time and a half for hours worked on calendar holidays. And seasonal contract and travel positions offer increased pay rates as well, working to fill gaps in the nurse-to-patient ratio. If you have no other reason to work during the holidays, at least you’ll come out with a wad of cash. Talk to your staffing agency or place of employment to see what holiday pay packages and bonuses are available to you.

Bonding with coworkers. 

Nothing brings a workforce together quite like working through the hectic holidays. In addition to just facing the wintertime craziness together, there are lots of ways to have fun with fellow nurses. Here are some activities you can do with your team to keep up the holiday spirit:

  • Have a potluck. Whether this is a formal day where everyone brings a dish, or a steady stream of cookies and spiced beverages, feeding each other is one great way to keep up morale.
  • Play secret santa. Especially on Christmas day or the last night of Hanukkah, exchanging gifts with colleagues will help keep everyone in the holiday spirit. 
  • Decorate the nurse’s station. Even on the rough days, having a little bit of sparkle at your desk can break through the winter gloom. 

Learning how to work in difficult situations. 

If you can make it through the holidays as a nurse, there’s nothing you can’t do. On top of better pay and bonding with colleagues, the winter season is there to test your mettle. Nursing through December is sure to boost your confidence, increase your response time, and looks pretty dang good on a resume to boot. 

How Medely can help you get the most out of working holidays. 

If you’re working as a travel nurse, contract nurse, or other allied pro, go through Medely when making your holiday plans. You can be selective about the jobs you accept if you need some family time during the holidays. Or, if you want to take advantage of the high-paying travel shifts available during the winter time, we’ve got you there, too. Sign up for your ideal holiday schedule today at

Are you looking for fun and practical gifts to give to your fellow nurses this season? Check out our other article, Best Christmas Gifts for Nurses, for ideas and inspiration.