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Physician Jobs: Finding the Silver Lining When You’re Scheduled to Work the Holiday Shift

Jackson Physician Search
December 20, 2022

Physician jobs are rarely contained to the nine-to-five schedule enjoyed by many working professionals. Certainly, physicians in residency and the early stages of their physician careers expect to spend a fair number of nights and weekends at the hospital or at least on call. It’s just part of the physician’s job. What you may not have thought about, however, are the many holidays you might spend working — the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas to name a few. Patients still get sick, injured, or have other emergencies on national holidays, and someone must be there to help them. That someone might even be you this holiday season. 

Working the holidays doesn’t have to be a dreaded part of a physician’s job. In fact, some see it as a rite of passage that every physician must endure. But even beyond your admission to the physician club of shared woes, working the holidays can be an overall positive experience when you think about it in the following ways:

1. A Gift to Colleagues

It’s the season of giving, and what better gift to give your colleagues than the ability to spend the day with their families? Few if any want to work the holidays, so by stepping up to volunteer, you are taking that pressure and burden off others who will likely be very grateful. 

2. A Gift to Patients

You got into this profession to help patients, but it may not always feel like you’re making a difference. However, when you provide those same services on a holiday, patients may be especially appreciative of your time and are more likely to express their gratitude. Even if they don’t, you can take satisfaction in knowing that you are providing an essential service to the community.

3. Earn Points to Cash in Later

All that giving back feels good, of course, but let’s not overlook the longer-term benefit to yourself. If you “take one for the team” over the holidays, you are better positioned to ask off for the popular week of spring break. Or when you need a colleague to cover your call one weekend, he or she will be more inclined to say yes. 

4. A Unique Atmosphere 

So, it may not be the setting for a Hallmark movie, but a hospital or clinic does have a unique vibe on a holiday that is likely to lift the spirits. Families of patients will often go to great lengths to bring the holidays to the hospital, and staff of all types enjoys a sense of unity in the shared experience of missing the holiday with their families and friends. Perhaps more so than any other time, coworkers feel like family. 

In addition to reframing the way you view the holiday shift, it may be useful to consider the following tips for preserving the spirit of the holiday for yourself.

Celebrate on a different day — Why miss the holiday when you can reschedule instead? Take time off before or after the holiday and designate a day to celebrate as you would on an official day. 

Do something festive with staff — Wear a Santa hat to work, play holiday music, or bring in latkes to share. Encourage everyone working the holiday to wear, bring, or do something to make the day jolly. 

Working the holidays is rarely ideal, but it doesn’t have to be a depressing experience. In fact, it’s likely to earn you recognition from your supervisors, appreciation from your peers, help you form deeper connections with staff, and remind you of all the reasons you became a physician — to help others in their time of need. 

Whether you’re spending the holidays on the clock or enjoying time off with family, the team at Jackson Physician Search wishes you all the best during the holiday season. 

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