Getting used to the schedule of a healthcare worker can be a struggle, particularly when it comes to working holidays. For hospitals workers, and residents and fellows just beginning their medical careers, this can be a challenge — but it's one shared by many healthcare workers, and acknowledged by program directors.
"It's well-known among residency program directors like me that interns, trainees in their first year, enter the doldrums as daylight wanes and they have to come to and leave the hospital in cold darkness," John Henning Schumann, primary care physician and teacher for University of Oklahoma, wrote in an article for NPR. "For many of our trainees — especially those fresh out of medical school — this will be the first holiday season without time off."
“You won’t find too many people who jump for joy when they find out that they have to work on a holiday,” author Andy Teach told Forbes. “It’s not easy working when most people get to enjoy the day off. It involves a lot of sacrifice.
All the same, the prospect of working holidays is a fundamental aspect of medical life. Even if you eventually run your own private practice with restricted hours, there's a good chance you'll find yourself working over the holiday in some capacity over the course of your career.
And, while it's true that one of the main benefits of working locum tenens is the flexibility of schedule, it's also true that the flexibility usually comes at the expense of working over the holidays in busy hospitals and healthcare facilities while full-time staff is on vacation or holiday leave. In fact, many locum tenens assignments exist to accommodate seasonal fluctuations that happen over the holidays.
Nonetheless, physicians and practitioners who embrace the realities of working during high-needs seasons — and yes, that includes holidays — can also enjoy certain rewards.
6 Reasons to Appreciate Working Holidays
1. More Job Opportunities. As noted above, many locum tenens opportunities are available during the holidays. It's possible for a locum tenens worker to sustain a career by working holiday assignments, and carving out a niche by accommodating seasonal shortages in hospitals and healthcare facilities.
2. The Chance to Earn Recognition. "If you step up to the plate and offer to work a holiday shift so that others can spend the day with their friends and family, this could be extremely beneficial to your career," notes Teach in the Forbes article. Given the great networking opportunities inherent in locum tenens work, going that extra mile during the holidays could have its rewards — particularly if you're thinking about asking the facility for a recommendation after your assignment.
3. A Quieter, More Intimate Atmosphere. “Those who tend to work on holidays enjoy the fact that it is usually less busy during those times of the year,” trauma surgeon Akram Alashari told Rasmussen's School of Health Sciences Blog. “I loved working holidays because patient family members were always there, they brought in great food and patients were generally happier,” said nursing professional Lorie Brown.
4. Professional Development. Dr. Schumann describes the experience he shared with a colleague of working over the holidays and thereby beginning "the long process of becoming professionals." Schumann describes working holidays as an experience apart from daily hospital life, and an essential part of a physician's career development.
5. The Satisfaction of Helping Others. As a healthcare worker, you know that with any shift you work, you're helping others. This holds even more true during the holidays, when you're also helping relieve the workers in a hard-working healthcare facility, "making their lives a little easier during an extremely busy and stressful time,” as Teach puts it.
6. Providing Holiday Care to Patients. Usually, over the holidays, it's the patients who really don't want to be in the hospital. “Many times it’s patients that don’t have anywhere else to go,” infectious disease specialist Dr. Josef Romano told South University's SouthSource. “The nurses are very kind to the doctors. The patients are nice to us. I think it’s really nice,” Romano added.
"Your mere presence helps reduce each patient's sense of loss," Dr. Schumann remembers being told by his mentor. "Our patients count on us. You may not want to be in the hospital, but think of what they're going through.
"It's a privilege to work on Christmas."
If you're a physician who embraces the opportunities of working over the holidays, we encourage you to contact Staff Care to discover a locum tenens assignment that meets your professional goals and personal preferences.
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