When working in healthcare, your overall job role is to help others be as healthy as possible.
While many patients require surgeries, medications, and more advanced intervention, others often need health advice.
You’ve been educated on the best health practices and know what lifestyles are best for whom.
Why is it that healthcare workers are highly at risk of getting sick or experiencing ailing conditions from their job?
You need to be in top shape, so you can work and set an example to your patients.
You dedicate your time to making others feel better, but it’s essential to tend to your wellbeing, too.
In this industry, there are several obstacles that you will face that could impact your ability to take care of yourself.
It helps to be aware of how you are at risk so you can learn strategies to overcome these obstacles:
Health Challenges for Healthcare Staff
Your shifts will regularly be packed with plenty of physical activity, like straining yourself to move patients, walking between hospital wards, or standing for extended periods during surgery.
In the healthcare field, most shifts are not quite 9 am-5 pm, either.
You will be working a variety of shifts, and many could be as long as 12 hours.
In most fair healthcare workplaces, your shift timing will be somewhat consistent for at least a few days so you can get into a rhythm, but these times may change for the following week.
There is a lot of adapting and readapting of the body, which could impair functioning as your body can’t enter a constant circadian rhythm when it knows when to rest and when to be alert.
This could lead to slower organ functioning, high blood pressure and make you more prone to anxiety.
Your brain and body levels will be unbalanced, which will impact your overall health.
Major health conditions that could come from not being able to manage fluctuating shift work include:
• Anxiety and/or Depression
Exposure to Health Hazards
Of course, in your field, you may face patients with intense health issues that could be contagious.
With the proper PPE, you should be safe when handling someone with a severe cold or flu, but there’s always a chance it spreads to you.
Other occupational hazards that you’ll face in your workplace could include:
• Musculoskeletal issues or physical injuries from handling patients
• Radiation or reproductive hazards from managing X-Rays and other machines used for testing and assessment
• Chemical exposure from cleaning agents or medical substances, leading to
allergic reactions, nausea, skin issues, and asthma development
• Violence from hostile, potentially intoxicated patients
Strategies to Support Healthcare Worker Health
While you can’t control every situation that you face in your field that puts your health at risk, there are ways you can manage your personal health around these conditions.
Learning some health strategies and your role in protecting your health while working can reduce the chances of experiencing these ailments:
The best focus, to begin with, is your sleep scheduling.
Considering your workplace condition and its regular fast pace and unpredictability, you need to be well-rested before working.
Sleep experts recommend that the brain and body need around 7-9 hours of sleep on average.
If you have some stability in your shift times, you can establish one designated bedtime and wake up time to build a strong sleeping schedule that’s easy for your body to find a rhythm.
However, in most cases, for healthcare workers, you won’t have one set schedule.
When it comes to night shifts especially, your sleep schedule will have to change dramatically.
In these cases, gradually adjust your sleep times hour by hour before the cycle of night shifts so that it is used to sleeping during daylight hours by the time of your night shifts.
Eating habits are often a source of poor health in healthcare workers.
With the fluctuating scheduling, long 12-hour shifts, physically enduring days, and more, it’s common that you will choose fast food over a healthy meal.
By the time of your break, you’ll want quick satisfaction of an unhealthy cafeteria meal rather than choices that will sustain you over the length of your shift.
Save your money and support your body with healthy dishes and snacks from home.
Don’t just bring one item to eat on your lunch break, but bring energizing snacks with protein and nutrients that will keep your blood sugar levels balanced, so you have the consistent energy to last your whole shift.
Your brain will have what it needs to function correctly so you can remain clear-minded, and your body will be able to move better.
Using Sufficient Personal Protective Equipment
When facing occupational hazards in your workplace, your employer should offer the necessary tools to keep you safe.
Observe whether your clinic or hospital has the proper equipment like masks, gloves, and more that will give you the highest chance of staying immune to chemical, radiation, biological, physical hazards.
There are helpful resources, like a PPE calculator, that informs what employers should be providing to their healthcare workers.
Learning How to Take Care of Yourself So You Can Take Care of Patients
When your body is in full health, you can function at your highest levels.
Your body will be more agile and manage the physical activity often required in healthcare, and your brain will be able to receive, organize, interpret, and remember information.
You’ll be able to grow in your field with your optimal performance and your ability to succeed in training.
At ProMed Certifications, we know your healthcare scheduling can be heavy and unpredictable.
We believe this shouldn’t stop you from gaining your ACLS, PALS, BLS, and CPR certifications, which will help you thrive and advance in your field.
Using our online training platform, you can pause your progress around your busy shifts and pick up where you last left off whenever you have time.
You should have the opportunity to learn and succeed in your field while in top health condition.