Response to working the holidays

By Kathleen S. Martin, M.S.W, L.C.S.W

Kathy Martin does individual, marriage and family psychotherapy in Palm Beach
Gardens, FL. Her new book God and Psychobabble is available where books are
sold. Have


Thank you friend for your question concerning working nights, weekends and holidays.  OUCH!!!!  Who among us wants those shifts!  No one.  One of the problems we have however is that certain jobs must be covered on weekends, holidays etc.  What ever would we do without a police force on duty over Christmas?  I suspect all honest people would have their Christmas presents stolen!  And what about all those drunk drivers and car accidents over the holidays especially New Year’s Eve?  Ambulances off duty?  Hospitals closed?  Nurses and doctors home for the holidays?

Now the number one common denominator for all depression is unrealistic expectations.  What that tells me is that perhaps you entered the nursing field with such unrealistic expectations.  Anotherwards, you chose a field of work that clearly required these undesirable work shifts.  But now you are fully trained and employed as a nurse.  Did you unrealistically think the rules of the game were suddenly going to change?  Of course they weren’t going to change therefore the only change that needs to occur is with you, with what goes on between those earlobes of yours.  🙂

First of all realize

you have chosen

a profession that is of utmost importance hence it is hardly a nine to five job.  It is a job with deep purpose and commitment.  Patients and families of your patients you’ve worked with REMEMBER you for your sacrifice, compassion and work ethic.  That’s a gift given to very few professions.  When I see a former client whose marriage

has been restored or whose depression has been lifted due in part to my efforts, that truly goes a long way in working past the late calls or interrupted family functions.  Take time to meditate on what you HAVE, on the many benefits and blessings derived from your profession, rather on all that you DON’T have the better work schedule.

Next you can realize that we are in a marvelous country where we are for the most part in control of our work situations.  If the nights, weekends and holidays are simply too problematic for you your nursing skills can certainly be used in an office setting.  Many nurses move to office settings due to such family issues or scheduling conflicts for children etc.  Like every job out there we have benefits and deficits.  You might find the office more or less rewarding, more or less stressful, etc.  There might be a change in your pay scale or benefits package however no situation gives us everything we want.  Therefore, compromise is always the key to a well life.  Figure your priorities and the adjust your job situation accordingly.

A final possibility might be to work within the job situation you already have.  Have you approached your supervisor concerning taking turns working weekends or holidays?  I have rarely seen a nurse be pressured to work on both Thanksgiving as well as Christmas.  And if you do get ALL the holiday shifts it is probably due to the fact that you are the most recently hired employee.  Anotherwards, be patient.  In time the shifts should adjust as you acquire more time at your place of work.  You can also talk to fellow nurses to exchange holidays—the Passover shift for the Christmas shift, Memorial Day when you have that big family picnic for July fourth which perhaps has been a less celebrated day in your family.  When you approach supervisors with SOLUTIONS rather than just PROBLEMS they are far more apt to adopt your solutions as it is their job to run a smooth ship!  The most important issue however, is for you to MAKE a decision as to what you want to do and then MAKE that decision work!  Contentedness concerning your job situation will be achieved between those two earlobes of yours realizing no job has it all.  REALISTIC thinking is the key.  Whatever you decide, I thank you for the times you have been there for all of us on those very inconvenient times.

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