A nurse’s guide to the Fourth of July

July 2, 2021

Our Healthcare Purchasing News staff ran into this blog several years ago from the Ameritech College of Healthcare – and it just seemed right to share as a reminder to keep safe practices in mind as we celebrate this year together (for all of you vaccinated folks), after the pandemic.

Healthcare doesn’t take days off. Whether it’s the Fourth of July or just another Sunday. Nurses, medical assistants and other healthcare workers have to clock in and report for work every single day. Sometimes seeing a holiday from the inside of a hospital can make for dramatic experiences. Ask any nurse about Halloween, and they’ll probably have stories. That has a lot of impact on healthcare workers’ everyday lives; it turns many into advocates for safety and sanity on days like the Fourth of July.

As much fun as the Fourth is, the holiday also correlates with a certain amount of risky behavior. Much of this can make a safety-minded healthcare provider shudder. Independence Day has a well-earned reputation for excessive accidents and hospital admissions. One study found that July had a 31.8% increase in hospital admissions for pediatric burns, with the researchers calling out the Fourth as a probable main cause.

Being a nurse means that you’ll be on alert on the Fourth. If you have a shift, you might see an increase in new patients who can trace their injuries back to fireworks, alcohol or not observing proper safety procedures. If you’re off for the holiday, you can make the Fourth safer by observing a few common sense safety tips, like keeping a reasonable distance from all of the colorful explosions.

Just because you’re at work doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the holiday! Donning a set of red, white, and blue scrubs brings a bit of the holiday into the hospital. Don’t miss out on fireworks. Instead, be the fireworks. Celebrating doesn’t just mean going to barbecues. It can also mean adding a little levity to your workplace. Plenty of other holidays also have themed scrubs, so even if you’re on the job during Halloween or Christmas, you’re still going to be celebrating in your own way.

Occasionally, you may care for patients who cannot be out and about, but nevertheless want to have some sense of the occasion. This is especially common for nurses who work with older populations. When that happens, you might want plan some low-impact Fourth activities for seniors, or whatever other group you’re caring for. Despite the reputation for fireworks, not all celebrations have to be loud.

Or, you might find yourself with a large family group. You could very well have members of the group who are very young or very old and who need a little more attention. When this happens, it’s very hard to turn off the healthcare provider part of your brain. You might find yourself making sure everyone is comfortable and cared for, that no one is overheated or sitting in harsh sunlight.

You might look at a family gathering and see the seniors, the kids, or the uncle with the bad knee, and find yourself instinctively going to them and checking in. In the face of a holiday that has a dangerous reputation, you’ll be the one advocating for safety and care. Because that’s what nurses do. Even on holidays. Healthcare doesn’t quit.

Happy 4th of July from HPN! Be safe.

Ameritech College of Healthcare has the blog post.