It is probably no surprise that nursing is one of the most dangerous jobs in America. There may not be a lot of heavy lifting or machinery involved, but when you are working with sick people, the chance of getting sick yourself is very real. And, every day, nurses come in contact with a variety of bacterial dangers, from COVID-19 to the flu.
As a traveling nurse, you must be aware of the current dangers and the steps you need to take to avoid contracting these diseases yourself. Here are some tips to stay healthy as you help others in need.
Viral and Bacterial Dangers
The most significant viral danger of today is COVID-19. Those that are most affected by the coronavirus are the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, and these are the groups who will most likely need a traveling nurse. Pair this with the fact that 60% of nurses have worked through the entire pandemic, and you can see that as a medical professional, caution is absolutely necessary.
As nurses are in constant contact with sick individuals, they must take all necessary preventive measures to avoid exposure. Wear your gloves and wash your hands immediately after working with patients and sanitize any tools used in the process. Avoid shaking hands and unnecessarily touching others, and keep your hands away from your face. Studies have also shown that the scrubs you wear can easily spread bacteria as well, so wash them on a daily or weekly basis.
Of course, COVID is only one of the thousands of bacterial and viral dangers that travel nurses can face every day. Every year common viral infections from hepatitis to HIV affect thousands of people around the world, so nurses are right there in the thick of things. Viruses can infect the system quickly and spread immediately, so nurses and the public alike should keep surfaces clean, use sanitizer, and avoid unnecessary contact.
There is a wide-ranging list of bacterial dangers that can affect traveling nurses, and some threats have evolved to the point that they are resistant to current antibiotics. Such bacteria can be found anywhere from soil and water to the air that we breathe. These infections can be very dangerous and cause a plethora of ailments. Some of the more dangerous are Clostridioides difficile, which can cause inflammation of the colon, and Drug-resistant Candida, which can infect the bloodstream.
Because these diseases can be incredibly difficult to treat, it is in your best interest to avoid getting sick in the first place. Make sure that you are always current on your shots, including necessary vaccines for influenza, hepatitis, measles, mumps, and more. It also doesn’t hurt to take helpful supplements that can fight off potential sickness, including vitamin C, E, D, and Zinc.
As a nurse, it is also necessary to eat well with foods that will boost your immune system, such as citrus fruits, nuts, especially almonds, broccoli, and other supercharged vegetables. Along with a healthy diet, you need to have a healthy lifestyle that includes two to three hours of moderate exercise every week. Exercise will keep your body in check and is great for working off the stress that a day of nursing can provide.
If You Get Sick
In the case that you end up feeling sick, you need to inform your employer and take time off until you are better again. The sad fact is that 83% of healthcare workers continue to work even when they are ill, and that is bad news. Not only do you need to care for yourself, but it is the health professional’s responsibility to the patient to provide a safe and disease-free environment.
With that said, you are allowed to take time off, and in some cases, it is the law for the company to allow you the time away that you need. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic, and some travel nurses are even opting to stay extra safe by avoiding work altogether during this time to instead live with family, so they are not as much at risk.
While recovering from sickness, it is important to take it easy and get plenty of sleep. When you get the rest you need, your body produces infection-fighting antibodies that heal your ailments and work to prevent future issues. Don’t try to work through the sickness and make things worse. Instead, heal so you can come back better than ever.
The life of a traveling nurse is not an easy one. There is plenty of stress, constant activity, and dangerous environments. But nothing can be more rewarding. Stay up to date on current viral and bacterial ailments, take the proper precautions, and continue to be a source of light for those in need.