Nurses get more up close and personal with sick patients than anyone else does. And yet it’s vital for them to stay healthy: They’ve got hard work to do and can’t be ill around patients with compromised immune systems. We’ve heard countless times that it’s essential to take care of ourselves before taking care of others—you know, the whole “secure your oxygen mask before assisting others” drill—but it’s hard to put into practice. Nurses actually do it.
1. Wash your hands
This one always amazes me. For my nurses, this means washing your hands obsessively outside of work, also. Don’t reserve the clean hands just for clocking in.
2. Dress appropriately
Just because your car is parked in a covered garage does NOT mean you don’t wear the appropriate outdoor clothing. I don’t know how many times I see coworkers walking “quickly” from their car with little to no outdoor gear.
3. Get some sleep
That wonderful immune system you’ve built up isn’t gonna do you any favours if you’re not properly rested. A sleep-deprived immune system is worth nothing to you.
4. Help your immune system
This is that sly reminder to make wise health decisions. I don’t think I need to explain to you what tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption can do to that immune system? Oh, this also goes for eating properly cooked meat, etc., too.
5. It’s okay to be around those who are sick
In fact, it’s a requirement! How else is your immune system going to recognize, fight and develop an immunity to those nasty bugs out there if it’s not being exposed to them? Stop avoiding everyone who looks, sounds or claims to be ill.
6. Don’t go to work sick!
This is a tough one for my fellow nurses. There is absolutely no benefit to showing up for work sick. If anything, it will make you feel worse and GET worse. Stay home. Get that sleep I was talking about.
7. Call the doctor when it’s time
Antibiotic resistance is not a myth. Don’t call your PCP just because you have a runny nose. This holds true for the other end of the spectrum, too! Don’t wait 10 days into your cold when you don’t have enough energy to make the phone call, let alone talk.
8. Stop taking shortcuts – OTC Meds
The list is endless here. Vitamin C, B12, D, E (pick a letter from the alphabet), echinacea, ginkgo biloba, elderberry, zinc, etc. Stop looking for lightning in a bottle…it doesn’t exist.
9. Tie back your hair
Just because you can’t see the germs doesn’t mean they’re not there. Tie it back, ladies! And gents!
10. Don’t touch your face
Most communicable diseases are transferred by touching your eyes, mouth or nose with unclean hands and fingers. Not to sound like a broken record, but make sure to wash your hands as much as humanly possible!
So. Did I miss any major tips? Care to add one?