Be a Better Nurse – Take a Vacation

Nurse Vacation

Be a better nurse… Take a vacation!

While you’re on your vacation, put all things nursing and job out of your head and don’t think about it for a week, or maybe 2! I am pretty sure I just heard every one of you say, “Vacation, I wish.” under your breath. I hope after reading this you will find the time and priority.

Any nurse leader has heard of the term PTO. It’s typically a dreaded term used by employee’s coming to you in order to request time not to show up to work. When you use it, it’s more representative of Part Time Office then Paid Time Off. Why do we find it so difficult to take time off work?

Believe it or not, there have been many studies on the topic. Most studies conclude that fear of losing position, status, or place in line for the next promotion often keeps us from utilizing our time off to its full potential.

However, those same study’s also indicate that taking time off is much more important than one might realize. Interestingly, it is not only necessary for the employee but for the company as well.

“Underutilized time off is a monstrous missed opportunity, not only for American workers and their families but also for employers and the broader economy,” Roger Dow, president and chief executive of the U.S. Travel Association, said in a statement- Forbes

What happens when you take a vacation? You give your brain some downtime and replenish your soul.

“To summarize, Americans and their brains are preoccupied with work much of the time. Throughout history people have intuited that such puritanical devotion to perpetual busyness does not in fact translate to greater productivity and is not particularly healthy. What if the brain requires substantial downtime to remain industrious and generate its most innovative ideas? “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets,” essayist Tim Kreider wrote in The New York Times. “The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration—it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.” – Scientific American

Having down time, however, is not just important for you. It’s also important for businesses. Vacation days give employee’s time to step back and refresh. This leads to more productivity and better focus. More productivity and better focus in the nursing world translates to better patient outcomes and safer patient care.

Not everywhere is equal when it comes to vacation days.

In a dataset of 2,310 respondents, we looked at data from the 20 countries with the most paid vacation days (247 respondents) and compared them to respondents in the United States (1,151). The 20 countries with the most vacation ranged from Australia, with 28 days allotted, to Sweden and Brazil, with 41 days. By contrast, the United States has no law requiring paid time off, and the average full-time worker with a year of service gets 10 paid vacation days (and only 25% of Americans take their full allotment, according to another survey). – HBR

Looking at the USA my own state made it on the top 10 list of best states.

Phoenix, workers, are much less likely to feel that skipping vacation makes them appear more dedicated than the average employee (14% to 26%) and they do not worry as much about losing consideration for a raise or promotion (11% to 21%). – Project Time Off

With Main in first place of most vacation days taken.

Maine holds the top spot when it comes to vacation usage, with just 38 percent of its workers leaving time on the table. Overall, Mainers are less affected than the average worker by the barriers to taking time off, particularly the fear that they would lose consideration for a raise or promotion (11% to 21%) and also report better vacation cultures at their companies.- Project Time Off

And the worst state to live in if you want to take a vacation day!

Washington, D.C. tops this year’s list[of worst states], despite being less challenged by many of the barriers to taking time off. – Project Time Off

How to vacation the right way.

Nurse Vacation Kids
Copyright: Prometeus / 123RF Stock Photo

If you are anything like me, this is tough. If you’re anything like my wife, this is all but impossible. Today is actually the last day of our week-long vacation, and I would say one of the most successful vacations we have had in some time.

You see most of our vacations are more a change of location that work gets done than an absence of work altogether. We have been known to sit in the hotel of our vacation destination with laptops open and working for hours. However, prioritizing our time and careful planning made this a success.

3 ways to vacation right


Before vacation this time we both identified someone who could handle the day to day operations of our jobs while we were gone.


Before leaving we both set our out of office replies. Before that, we had communicated with our staff weeks before so everyone knew what to do and who to call if anything was needed.

Trust you team

Sometimes taking a vacation is like sending your kid to their first day of school. It’s more about your control than about your need to be there. Trust your team to handle things while you’re gone. You may just be surprised how people do when forced to step up to the plate.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed the article and may even have been inspired to take some time off. If you liked this article, please like us on Facebook and leave a comment below.

Author: Derek Di Camillo

I have been a nurse since 2010 and come from a variety of fields. CPR Instructor, Customer Service, IT/Technology to name a few. Through my travels I have learned many lessons that have prepared me for leadership roles in the Assisted Living industry. I am constantly seeking to better myself and share what I have learned and am learning along the way.