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How do I deal with asking for vacation time?

Tired of staring at the white walls of your hospital? Going crazy eating cafeteria food? Time for a break! Whether it’s a relaxing cruise, an exotic island getaway, or a sandy beach adventure, it’s high time you got out of those scrubs and away from the dreariness of charting and rounds.

Worried your workload will keep you from your vacay? We’ll help you get around an overbearing manager, angry coworkers, and problematic patients so you can get the rest and relaxation you deserve.  If you follow these practical dos and don’ts, you’ll find yourself out the door before you know it!

1. Do Ask in Advance

The fastest way to get shot down when asking for time off is asking at the last minute. Your boss is a busy person with a lot on her plate. Why not make her job easier (and show how considerate and responsible you are) by asking weeks — or months — in advance? Not only are you doing yourself a favor, but your manager will appreciate the heads up and can plan the shift schedule accordingly. She’ll have the time to consider the request fairly…and you’ll have the added bonus of having plenty of time to try again if you’re denied.

2. Don’t Mention the Fun Factor

Just because you’re planning a vacation doesn’t mean you have to advertise it. Making a big deal of your upcoming trip might not just distract you from doing your work — it might even irritate other nurses as well. Don’t act like you’ve started your vacation early! Nobody wants to hear you go on and on about your impending trip to the Bahamas when they’re going to be stuck with the late shift.

3. Do Emphasize How Much You Deserve This Break

Vacations are statistically proven to boost productivity. For once, the math is on your side! When asking your manager for time off, point out how hard you’ve worked this year and be prepared to talk in detail about particular cases you’ve handled, if necessary. If this is the first major vacation you’ve taken in a long time, don’t hesitate to mention it. By emphasizing your hard work thus far, your boss will realize the benefit of having you come back refreshed and recharged to be an even better nurse!

4. Don’t Leave Loose Ends

Got someone to cover your daily tasks? Updated fellow nurses on the details of your patients’ cases? Leaving work left undone and coworkers hanging is a big mistake — one that will annoy fellow nurses and make your manager think twice the next time someone wants to go on vacation. Manage your responsibilities yourself and make sure you’re covered. There’s nothing more inconsiderate than someone who leaves work for colleagues to finish.


5. Do Get it in Writing

You politely asked your manager two months ago if you can take a vacation. You did everything right and got approval to go. But now your trip is a week away and your boss has no recollection of the conversation. Should’ve gotten it in writing! When you go in to ask for time off for a few months down the road, get your boss to put it in writing — either on paper or in an email. That way if they back out at the last minute — or simply forget the conversation — you have tangible proof that you weren’t making it up!

6. Don’t Feel Guilty

It’s easy to feel like you’re being a lazy nurse if you want to skip town for some fun. But you shouldn’t. Don’t feel bad for taking time off! After all, your vacation days are yours to do with as you please, and what’s the point in wasting them by feeling bad about it? Instead, channel the focus you have at the hospital into having some serious fun! Work hard, play hard.

Related Reads:

Are you at risk for burnout?

Avoid workplace anger’s corrosive effects

6 tips to survive your first year as a hospital RN

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