“Yeah Mum, I’ll be home for Christmas!” 

There’s no question how often we desire to be able to say these words to our loved ones, especially as healthcare professionals. Christmas season also marks the end of the year, which is always a good time for some reflection. 

As Christmas draws near, preparation for the big day also begins. Cleaning the house, hanging up decorations, and most importantly - dressing up our enormous green tree with beautiful dazzling lights. A typical Christmas day starts with my family and I going to church. After service, we always gather at my grandma’s house because that’s where all the scrumptious food is! We get to meet all the relatives we haven’t seen in a while to catch up and spend quality time together. The house is always enveloped with so much peace and love. 

However, as the years progressed, I found myself being unable to sit at the dinner table with my family during Christmas.
All I could do was scroll through pictures and videos of my family members gathered around the Christmas tree and exchanging gifts. 

Why? Well, the reason is simple - hospitals never shut their doors. 

Before becoming a locum nurse, I was a full time nurse in a restructured hospital. Working at some of the busiest departments - the Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit, sometimes the shifts were crazy enough that we did not even realise it was already time to handover to the incoming shift. We always gave our all and were absolutely exhausted. In addition to that, we had additional assignments given by the ward that we had to work on when we returned home. 

Although there’s definitely a sense of fulfilment in saving people’s lives, it’s also good to take some time to reflect on our own lives too.

How much family time are we losing out on due to our work commitments? 
Are we able to spend time with our parents as they age?
Are we missing out on important milestones or experiences with our children as they grow up? 

I remember pouring out my thoughts to a friend one night, telling her that I felt like I was losing myself. The feeling of being committed to an organisation while sacrificing so much family time didn’t seem rational to me. After hours of listening to me whining, she turned to me and asked:

“What’s stopping you?” 

“What’s stopping me?” - the question kept echoing in my ears. 

What’s stopping me from changing how things are to how I desire them to be?

What’s stopping me from taking the leap of faith to work as a locum so that I could focus on the one thing that matters most – my family?
Right there and then, I decided to make a change. 

A couple of years have passed and I am thankful for the decision I made to change to locum nursing. I have no regrets. I’m able to share my knowledge and skills at various departments, and guide new colleagues the same way I was taught too. I have time to pursue my passions like writing and podcasting, and have met and interviewed inspiring people that I’ve learnt so much from. 

Most importantly, I am blessed to be present with my family, attend church regularly, and be there when my loved ones need me. I’ve been able to get in touch with my friends whom I haven’t been able to meet in the past years; and travelling isn’t an issue because I don’t have to ballot for annual leaves. I guess you could say that I’m truly living my life now and making the most of every single day.  

Life is short. We have seen how unpredictable life is, all the more so in our profession. 
I want to encourage you to take a leap of faith towards what your heart truly desires.  
Let’s not waste any time living a life that we are not content with. 

Come on, what’s stopping you?