Working a contract far from home can be lonely for healthcare travelers during the holiday season. Many travelers choose to not work a contract during the holidays, while others choose to work. If you do choose to work during the holidays, here are my tips and advice for making the best of the holiday season.
1. Get Days Off Written Into Your Contract
If you are working during the holiday season and want any days off, get them written in your contract at the time of your contract negotiation. Best practice is to include the requested days off in your resume package when you are submitted to a job. A facility can then decide if they want to interview/hire you considering your time off requests.
Note that during this time of year, time off is an important issue. I have had recruiters tell me that facilities will often select travelers who request little or no time off around the holidays versus ones who request time off. There is no way to know for sure if asking for time off will impact your ability to get a contract or not.
2. Know Your Rate
If you are working a holiday, do not assume that you will get paid a holiday rate or that you know what that rate is. First, look at your contract to see if you get paid a holiday rate for the specific holiday(s) that you are working. Next, look at the rate offered for working.
As a traveling therapist, I found that many SNF companies did not pay me extra to work holidays. I have gotten paid time and a half to work for other facilities. However, it was time and a half based on my taxable rate only, not my blended rate.
3. Plan Ahead
If you plan to go home or visit family around the holidays, plan ahead and book in advance. Airfare for December begins to rise significantly in October and flights become more expensive and harder to book.
4. Be Creative and Flexible
As a traveler, I found that I was often at the bottom of the barrel when it came to requesting time off around the holidays. Plus, holidays often fall on one day in the middle of the week, which does not leave me time to get to my family and back to work.
What I do is celebrate the holidays with my family at a different time of the year. Perhaps it is early December or mid January. My family chooses a time where we can all be together and celebrate. This way, I do not have to deal with the expense and stress of traveling to and from family events around the holidays AND I can often get the time off unopposed.
5. Engage in Holiday Events On Your Assignment
Don’t be a Scrooge on assignment! Get out there and engage in holiday cheer! If your work is having a party, see if you can attend. If there are other travelers in your area, try to organize a holiday potluck. Find out if there are any places that accept volunteers around the holidays.
No matter what you do for the holidays or where you go, I hope that you have the best and merriest of holidays! To all of the readers working over the holidays, I want to thank you so much for your service and dedication to your patients. Thank you for all that you do during the year and now. Happy holidays!!