How to stay healthy while caring for the sick

July 27, 2015

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Working in the medical profession can mean caring for people with all types of conditions from injuries to infections. Nurses, physician assistants and other medical workers are often exposed to various types of germs and infections. That last thing you want when you are taking care of others is to get sick yourself. It’s essential to take the right precautions to keep yourself healthy and well.

Stick to the basics

The stronger your immune system, the more likely you are to fight off whatever your body comes in contact with. Eating right and getting exercise help keep your immune system strong. Healthy eating includes the right balance of good carbohydrates, such as fruits and grains. Include healthy fats, such as nuts, protein and plenty of vegetables. Exercise also helps your immune system function optimally. Find exercise you enjoy and shoot for three to five days a week.

Get enough sleep

It can be hard to get enough sleep if you are working overnight shifts or are on call. But developing a routine to help you wind down at the end of your day can help. Try to do something relaxing before hitting the hay. Aim for seven to eight hours sleep on most nights.

Use protective equipment correctly

Personal protective equipment is essential when working in healthcare and can prevent you from contracting a serious infection. Always pay close attention to which precautions are needed and what equipment should be used. Protective equipment may consist of gloves, mask, an eye shield and a gown. The mode of infection transmission will indicate what type of precautions you need to take. For example, tuberculosis is transmitted through respiratory droplets. You are required to wear a special mask to prevent inhaling any secretions from the patient when he coughs.

Consider immunizations

If you work in healthcare, you may be required to get certain immunizations. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities have different policies on which immunizations are mandatory and which are recommended. For instance, annual flu shots are mandatory for some healthcare workers unless they have an allergy to the shot or a religious objection. Additional immunizations often offered to healthcare workers include hepatitis B, measles and whooping cough.

Wash your hands

When you are busy, going from one patient’s room to the next it can cause you to slack off on hand hygiene. But washing your hands between patients not only reduces cross contamination, it can help keep you healthy. Even if you are wearing gloves when treating a patient, it is important to still wash your hands. If you use hand sanitizer, keep in mind, it will not kill all viruses.

Don’t ignore symptoms

Healthcare workers are used to taking care of others, but you also have to take care of your health. If you develop new symptoms or just feel off, contact your doctor. Delaying seeing a doctor can make a situation worse. Feeling your best and staying healthy allows you to be effective at your job and do your best.