Well, here we are again amid pumpkin spice everything and breaking out those cozy sweaters.
It’s the holiday season, and it’s (in my opinion) the most wonderful time of the year. It usually means food (lotsa food), hanging with the family, celebration and of course, parties. But for us nurses and even travel nurses, it may not be all unicorns and rainbows.
Being a travel RN doesn’t have to be lonely or unpleasant during the holidays; in fact, it may be the opposite, so stick with me a sec here.
I’m going to share my top 5 tips for travel RNs to not just survive but thrive during this holiday season.
Schedule time off between contracts
The savvy traveler is already way ahead of me on this one.
You see, the best way to truly make the most of the season is to time your contracts to begin and end before and after the holiday season.
For example, say you’re on a gig and know you’ll be taking an extension or even a new one. Optimally, you’d engineer the end of one contract and the beginning of the next with a one or two-week gap between. Feel me?
If you want to spend the holidays at home, it’s totally your call to make.
One of my favorite parts of being a travel RN is knowing when I want to have off and structuring my gigs so that it keeps things clean and succinct.
And hey, if you still want to work, you can always pick up some shifts when you’re back home.
But what happens if you’re already on a contract?
This could get a little sticky, so be sure to tread lightly and respectfully.
If you’re working a contract during the holidays, don’t assume you’ll be off, and also don’t assume you’ll have to work the actual holiday simply because you’re “the traveler.” If you want time off your regular schedule from November to January, make sure it’s agreed to upfront. Usually, before the contract starts.
Also, be sure to get it in writing from your travel company and your nurse manager.
On the flip side, if you’re seeking a new contract during the holiday season, trying to negotiate specific days off could be a show-stopper for you. The main reason is that many hospitals need coverage over the holiday break.
What about celebrating a holiday on a non-holiday day?
Think about it this way. Unless you absolutely must celebrate on that specific day, there’s no rule that says you can’t do Christmas on the 26th. Or New Year’s Day on the 3rd.
What I mean is that flexibility can go a long way not only with your co-workers but also with your agency. Besides, arranging travel during the holidays is a headache at best. At worst, it’s impossible.
What’s wrong with meeting family on days close to the holiday anyway?
As a real-life example, I’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving over the weekend instead of the actual Thursday. I agreed to work that day as well as Black Friday, and in return, was able to score the Christmas holiday AND New Year off.
Start something new
Travel nurses are a different breed.
We tend not only to flock together but also do things that may not seem…well…ordinary.
For example, on one assignment, we decided that we’d handle the unit, and in return, we had almost the entire next week off. So what did we do? We celebrated Thanksgiving the week after.
The bonus was no lines at the store, no heavy traffic to mess with, and did I mention nearly a week off?
To see if they want to join you in celebrating the holidays, reach out to individuals you met on assignment, whether they be colleagues or new pals. Who knows, maybe they already have an alternate holiday planned that you can join in on.
Have your peeps come to you
I was on assignment overseas and wasn’t going to make it home.
So my wife came to me. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
My work schedule remained uninterrupted, and we spent the days together. Sure, going home is always the best option, but the second-best option? When home comes to you.
The final word
As travel RNs, we are a unique breed and often find ways to celebrate holidays in nontraditional ways.
If you’re already on a contract during the holiday season, don’t assume you’ll be off, and also don’t assume you’ll have to work the actual holiday simply because you’re “the traveler.” If you want time off your regular schedule from November to January, make sure it’s agreed to upfront. Usually, before the contract starts.
Flexibility can go a long way, so if you’re seeking a new contract during the holiday season, try to negotiate specific days off. Celebrating a holiday on a non-holiday day is no big deal.
And finally, reach out to individuals you met on assignment to see if they want to join in on celebrating the holidays together.
To learn more about the travel nursing opportunity and cities across the country, visit Bestica Healthcare and start planning your next assignment today.