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By December 16, 2009 3 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: How do I get the holidays off before I start my travel nursing assignment?


The past few weeks we have been discussing some ways to ensure time off during the Holiday season. This week we’ll look at a few final ways to get time off during the Holidays.

One final option you might have is to request the time off prior to starting your assignment. Now not every facility will agree to this, but it depends mostly on your approach.

Let’s say you were offered an assignment starting in mid-November. You might be able to say, “Yes, I would like to accept the contract, but I have already planned time off to spend with my family during Christmas” (or Thanksgiving, or whenever). Then, it would be the facility’s job to decide whether or not this was a deal breaker.

Now if you do take this approach, be aware that some facilities will not go for this and might even rescind an offer. However, if it is approached right, it’s rare that you will encounter problems.

The best time to mention that you need specific time off is in the interview before the hospital makes an offer. This way, you can often feel them out about the possibility of having that time off. If you mention it and their response is “that’s no problem at all”, then you are good. If you mention it and they hesitate and say something like, “I don’t know if that would be possible”, then you have to decide how important it is to you.

If you do have an agreement with regard to any time off, always have it written into your contract.

The last way to get time off during the Holidays is to work a half shift with someone. A few people in my unit have agreed to work different parts of Christmas day. One person will cover from 7AM to 1PM and then go home to have Christmas with their family, and the other has Christmas morning with their family and comes in to cover from 1PM to 7PM. Shifts that are “halved” like this often need to be approved by the manager or staffing office, so plan ahead.

About the Author:

Hello everyone. I’m a travel nurse originally from Ohio who graduated in 1993 from Mount Carmel School of Nursing in Columbus. I completed a critical care fellowship at Riverside Methodist Hospital in 1994 and started traveling in that specialty a year later. My first travel assignment was in Maui and since that time I have completed close to 40 different contracts in various states with multiple travel companies. I am the author of Travel Nurse’s Bible (A Guide to Everything on Travel Nursing), in addition to my writings here and in the pages of Travel Nursing publications such as Healthcare Traveler Magazine and American Nurse Today. I am presently on assignment in Phoenix, AZ and travel anywhere from six to eleven months of the year.

3 Comments on "Ask a Travel Nurse: How do I get the holidays off before I start my travel nursing assignment?"

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  1. chelsea


    If I only wanted to take one nursing job a year that lasted about 2-4 months would that be OK? Do I need to work a certain amount per year to stay qualified as a traveling nurse?

  2. David says:

    Sorry for such a long response on that first one, but if you need time off during the holidyas, and know that before you accept an assignment, discuss it in the interview before accepting the assignment. Occasionally, it can be a deal breaker for a hospital if they really need you to expressly cover that holiday season. If you do get approval for that time off, make sure it gets written into your contract.

    As for Chelsea’s questions, you can absolutely work as many, or as few, contracts as you wish during the year. Early in my career, I would typically work in a warmer climate all winter (as I was living in Columbus, Ohio), then come back home and work per diem during the summer months (when Columbus is tolerable).

    Just remember, you will have to think about insurance issues if you do not continue from assignment to assignment. If you have private insurance, this may not be a factor, but if you depend on company provided insurance, sporatic assignments might pose a challenge. However, many travel company insurance plans do offer COBRA benefits.

    On a side note, if there are other questions regarding travel nursing, PLEASE submit them to me at I have many blogs on this site and don’t always catch everything that lands in the comments section and want to make sure I address all of your questions. Thanks.


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