Holiday travel as a professional healthcare traveler can be bittersweet. On one hand, you’re helping make sure perm staff can take the holidays off, as well as improving patient lives. On the other hand, you may not experience the satisfaction of opening presents on Christmas morning or lighting the menorah each night of Hanukkah with your family and loved ones.
Sure, there may be some challenges to holiday travel, but it can be well worth it. Here’s a guide to scheduling assignments around the holidays and making the most out of holiday shifts.
- Do travel nurses have to work holidays?
- How do holiday travel assignments work?
- How to make the most out of holiday assignments
- Benefits of holiday assignments
- Find your holiday assignment with Fusion Marketplace
Do travel nurses have to work holidays?
Since travel nurses get to choose their assignments, they don’t have to choose an assignment that overlaps with holidays. The best way to ensure you don’t work holidays as a travel nurse is to not take an assignment that will coincide with holidays you want off.
You can request a holiday off during an assignment, but this should be one of the first conversations you have with your recruiter. After that, any agreement about holidays should be put in your contract. You may also want to inquire about the facility’s holiday policy during your interview and have further conversations with your manager as needed.
Keep in mind, requesting holidays off may limit your travel job options. As you know, travelers are generally scheduled when the facility has the greatest staffing needs, which often includes holidays. Plus, the beginning of winter is when seasonal respiratory illnesses are going around and Southern states like Florida and Arizona start experiencing census spikes.
As a result, a fairly large percentage of travel nursing contracts flow around the holidays. These contracts start in October and end in early January. Signing a travel nursing contract in September or October will usually cover the holiday season, so the timing of your job search is important.
How do holiday travel assignments work?
Every facility has a different holiday policy. Some facilities will want travelers to work all the holidays, some won’t let travelers work any holidays due to more expensive rates, and some will schedule you like perm staff and let you choose your preference.
Additionally, facilities define holiday shifts differently. For example, one hospital may consider the Christmas holiday starts with the 7 P.M. to 7 A.M. shift on Christmas Eve and ends at 7 P.M. on Christmas Day, while another may not start the holiday until 7 A.M. on Christmas Day and end it the following day at 7 A.M. — be sure you exchange these details with your recruiter when you accept your holiday job offer.
For some travelers, the holiday season is a personal and significant time of the year, and they may want to take breaks during their contract or choose not to travel altogether for the holidays. Either way, the most important thing is to communicate your wants, needs, and desires to your recruiter upfront so they’re able to help successfully match you with a travel placement.
How to make the most out of holiday assignments
While taking a holiday travel assignment might mean the season looks a little different than usual, it can also be a great opportunity to visit places you wouldn’t typically see during the holidays and bond with your coworkers. Here are a few ideas for celebrating the holidays even when you’re working a shift.
Experience the holidays differently
One of the great things about traveling is it allows you to experience the holiday season however you want! Opt for assignments in locations that interest you. If you were born and raised in the Midwest, you might want to experience the winter season in a warm, sunny climate like California. Or maybe you want to try to find a travel placement that’s close to home.
“I love the white Christmas,” said traveler Pharaby. “I’m from Louisiana, so it’s never cold or snowy.”
This is also your chance to attend holiday events you’ve always dreamed of seeing in real life! Some seasonal events to check out include:
- The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City
- The Christkindlmarket in Chicago
- Winterfest in Seattle
- The in Washington, DC
Celebrate with colleagues
Bring the holiday festivities to work with you for a Friendsgiving, Secret Santa, or White Elephant gift exchange! There’s nothing like the holidays to bring people together. Get to know your colleagues a little bit better and share some holiday cheer together.
“Every year, it always feels a little homier during the holidays,” said travel MLT Lee. “Everyone usually brings in food and it feels more like a nice permanent job for a day.”
Travel nurse Tori, loves to celebrate the holidays with her colleagues. “It’s fun celebrating holidays with your coworkers,” she said. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve celebrated New Years with my coworkers in an empty patient room cheering with sparkling cider. Oh, the memories!”
Benefits of holiday assignments
Whether you’re full of holiday spirit or more of an Ebenezer Scrooge, taking a travel job during the season has many benefits. Even if you’re the holliest, jolliest individual, you can’t argue with the sweet advantages that come with healthcare travel during the holiday season. After all, what’s better than making money, sharing delicious treats, and enjoying the company of others, all while saving lives?
Travel nurse holiday pay
Of course, an obvious benefit to working a holiday is the overtime, holiday pay, and sometimes even a travel bonus. Every agency may handle holiday pay a little bit differently, so make sure to talk out the details with your recruiter beforehand so you know what to expect.
Traveling medical laboratory specialist (MLS) Julie said she tends to work holiday shifts so perm staff can enjoy time away from work. “There’s usually a free meal involved, holiday pay, and if you’re lucky, a reduced workload!”
Traveling medical lab technologist (MLT) Teresa relates, “The biggest perk for me is the extra money.”
Get an edge on post-holiday contract competition
Additionally, taking a holiday assignment is a good way to get ahead of the rush of travel RNs returning to work over the holidays in post-holiday contract competition.
Either the opportunity to extend your holiday assignment or simply having the boost of more recent experience will make securing a job through January much easier if you work the holiday season. Or your holiday assignment will carry you through the post-holiday rush, so by the time you're back on the market, it will be less competitive.
No matter which way you look at it, taking a holiday assignment helps you avoid the mad dash for post-holiday contracts.
Possibility for a slow-paced shift
Some travelers actually prefer to work holidays! Not only are you getting paid more, but sometimes the shift is calmer than usual. In some areas of the country, you’re more likely to have fewer patients to care for during the holidays because of low census rates.
“We volunteer to work most holidays because we don’t have family nearby most assignments,” Tori said. “I try to help others if they want time off so they can spend the holidays with their families! On the rare occasion, the census is lower during the holidays, so sometimes you aren’t maxed out on patients. It can be a break sometimes.”
Make a difference in patients’ lives
Beyond all the other benefits, taking a holiday shift can be incredibly rewarding. Nobody wants to spend a holiday in the hospital as a patient, but having dedicated, caring healthcare professionals looking after you when they could be home celebrating means a lot. Just being on shift that day will make a bigger impact on patients than you may ever know.
Find your holiday assignment with Fusion Marketplace
With a Marketplace profile, you gain access to tens of thousands of travel healthcare jobs in your division and specialty, plus the ability to compare pay packages, benefits, locations, and more.
When you find an assignment you like, express interest with one click. Then wait for a call from the agency recruiter for more details.
Fusion Marketplace offers travelers the freedom to browse and apply for healthcare jobs that fit their wants, desires, and needs, no matter what that looks like for you. Finding your next assignment has never been easier!