Your health is their health.
Medical professionals spend so much time trying to keep their patients healthy that it’s easy to forget about keeping yourself protected—especially busy med students who are often pushing their bodies past the breaking point to keep up. Although it’s not an epidemic in the U.S., the new coronavirus reminds us that it’s important to think about your own health and safety along with your patients.’
Harness Your Knowledge
During med school, you’re going to hear no end of viruses and bacteria, along with the effects they have on your body. You’ll learn all about how they spread, incubation periods, and antibodies, all of which can help you be more prepared to defend yourself.
But sometimes, after all that in-depth knowledge, it’s easy to forget the basics and how they affect you on a daily basis. Put that knowledge to good use in matters of your own health and be aware of your own actions when it comes to practical steps.
Bedside Manner and Health
There is a lot to be said for making patients feel cared for. Whether it’s a pat on the back or a squeeze on the hand. But, self-care is important so you can provide as much comfort as possible to as many patients as possible.
So follow other doctors’ examples. Use disposable gloves before shaking hands. Train yourself to not touch your face. And if touches are needed, try a squeeze on the shoulder vs. a handshake, where there are less likely to be a concentration of contagions.
Prioritize Gut Health
Since nearly 70% of your immune system lives in your digestive tract, it can be a big factor in staying healthy. When you’re eating whole, healthy foods that support good digestion, you make it easier for your body to function the way it should. Although we know it’s harder to eat healthy on a med student’s busy schedule and budget, there are simple steps you can take to make it possible.
A big way to make sure you’re getting good gut flora is to eat healthy, unprocessed foods. If you can plan your meals and snacks ahead of time, you’re less likely to reach for the sugary snacks that wreak havoc and feed the bad bacteria. Also and more obviously, probiotics, such as yogurt and kombucha, can help you maintain a healthy balance of good gut bacteria that will help to fight off infections or invasions.
Remember that you are the provider of healthcare, and that starts with your health!
How many times a day do you think the average doctor washes their hands?
The answer varies, of course, depending on the length of the provider’s shift and the type of medical work they’re performing. But the CDC found that on average, a doctor will wash their hands at least 100 times during a 12-hour shift.
Have your own pens ready, open the door with an elbow, and build the habit of being extra aware of what you’re touching, and when. The more you focus on something, the more likely it will become second nature.
Health is the Best Gift to Give Yourself
As hard as it is to imagine adding anything more to your plate right now, the sooner you begin to focus on your health and wellness, the stronger your habits will become. You and your patients both deserve a care provider who prioritizes their health.