“My mom’s out saving babies”: Healthcare over the holidays, part 3

A series on what it’s like to work during the festive season. Our third installment: Missing your loved ones.

What’s it like to work in an emergency room over Christmas and New Year’s? We asked the more than 500,000 healthcare professionals on Figure 1, our global case-sharing platform over the weekend of Dec. 5–6, 2015. Here are some of their best replies.

At first my kids didn’t get why I wasn’t there at all the holiday events. Now they just tell everybody, “my mom’s out saving babies.” They wear it like a badge. They always bring leftovers to feed the staff and my daughter makes cards for all my coworkers.
Registered nurse, California.

Working in healthcare means missing your children opening their gifts on Christmas. It means planning birthday parties a week early or a week late. It’s missing holiday functions with family. It means missing your child’s school parties. It’s also being family to a patient that would otherwise be all alone. It’s watching your patient’s face light up when you sit and talk with them about their past holidays. It’s a special gift not many get to experience.
Elder care nurse, Arkansas.

I was on call as a medical technologist on Christmas day years ago. My children were one and three years old at the time and I had woken them up early to “do” Santa in case I got called in. Lo and behold, they called me for labs needed in the ER 5 minutes after we started opening presents. I got dressed and drove the 25 minutes to the hospital. As I walked into the ER room to draw the blood on the patient, he proceeded to scream at me, demanding to know what took so long and saying that he wanted me to hurry so he could get back to his family for Christmas morning. It took everything I had to not scream back and quit right there! Turns out he had a “slight cough for two weeks” and the doc just wanted to check his wbc (white blood cell count)!
Medical technologist, Louisiana.

I work as a personal support worker in a retirement facility. Many years, while most residents go out with their families, there are some left behind — they have no family, the families’ houses aren’t suitable for their limitations, or there are different family dynamics at play. These are the residents who need us the most during that time. We are like family to them, as they are to me. Being able to spend holidays with FAMILY is what it is all about — even when that family doubles as staff. I would much rather be there and enjoy it, than have someone there who is miserable because they are missing something. My family understands — we have a few nurses (and I am almost done nursing school). We are very fortunate to have our residents/patients in our lives, and I intend to enjoy what time I have with them.
Personal support worker, Ontario, Canada.

Share and discuss real-time medical cases with dedicated medical professionals like these on the Figure 1 app. Interested in learning more about Figure 1? Email us at communications@figure1.com

Other installments in this series:

Celebrating with your colleagues.

The most difficult cases.

The holiday rush.

Care when it matters most.