Healthcare workers play a vital role in our lives. The recent pandemic made everyone realize their importance and contribution to society even more.
Being a medical professional is no less than being a superhero. You have to work long hours, but the passion for helping people and making a difference keeps you going. However, it is easy to forget to care for yourself while taking care of others.
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The Shortage of Healthcare Workers
It is a well-known fact that the US is facing a healthcare worker shortage. Patient needs are increasing, and there are not enough medical workers and facilities to keep up with them.
This problem, especially the shortage of nursing faculty, not only affects patient care but may also negatively impact existing medical professionals. This is because healthcare workers are prone to burnout, which can include mental, physical, or emotional exhaustion.
Trying to keep up with the ever-increasing patient needs and demands may add to the problem. This may lead to more medical errors and poor performance and cause workers to leave their jobs. Consequently, burnout is one of the top reasons for the current healthcare shortage.
Apart from this, it is also necessary to address the lack of nursing faculty. You may think that nursing is only limited to patient care. However, the field of nursing is much more vast than that. For instance, if you are a registered nurse, you can compare advanced degrees, such as MSN vs DNP, and progress in your career, providing better patient care. This way, you can also play a role in reducing the shortage of healthcare workers and improving patient care.
Selfcare Tips for Medical Professionals
By now, you might know how common burnout is among medical professionals. So, it is important to practice self-care to stay healthy and stress-free and enhance your quality of life. Here are some easy tips you can follow to help you take care of yourself.
- Practice different techniques to reduce stress
According to a study, 38.2% of physicians reported feeling a minimum of one symptom of burnout in 2020. However, that percentage rose to 62.8% in 2022. Overwhelming stress due to different factors in your job is the biggest cause of burnout.
Although you cannot completely avoid stress, you can try to manage it. Reducing stress can also help in reducing the chances of experiencing burnout. You can do so by practicing various relaxation techniques. You can choose a technique you’re most comfortable with and practice it regularly. Here are some of the relaxation techniques you can choose from:
- Deep breathing
- Get a full night’s sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for staying healthy and improving brain function. Getting enough sleep allows you to make better decisions, improves cognitive function, and helps you stay clear-headed. All of which are crucial for a medical professional.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 7 or more hours of sleep every night for adults. This will help you wake up refreshed and ready for the day. However, it is normal to have trouble sleeping, especially if you are stressed or have had a long day. In this case, you can try some tips and tricks to help you sleep better. For instance, you can:
- Limit your caffeine intake, especially close to bedtime
- Avoid looking at screens at least an hour before bedtime
- Read a book
- Take a warm bath
- Relax with the help of relaxation techniques
- Maintain a healthy diet
Medical professionals have a busy routine. You may not have time to relax, sit, and have a proper meal. So, you may resort to unhealthy snacks or order takeout. However, these things have no real nutritional value and may also be harmful in the long run.
So, a major part of taking care of yourself is maintaining a healthy diet. If you do not have time to eat a proper meal, buy some healthy snacks and take them to work with you. Healthy snacking may include eating fruits, nuts, cheese, dates, etc.
It is also important to add vegetables to your diet and avoid eating takeout too much. If you are too tired to cook after work, you can prep your meals for the week or a couple of days on a day off.
- Exercise regularly
As a medical professional, you might be on your feet all day. So, you might think that that is enough physical activity for a day. However, it is important to exercise regularly for optimum physical health.
Of course, the best option is to join a gym, but nurses may not have the time or energy to do that. So, you can engage in an at-home workout such as push-ups, crunches, pull-ups, stretches, and more. You can also engage in other physical activities like swimming, cycling, or running.
Regular exercise can have numerous amazing benefits for your physical and mental health. It helps relieve stress, improve mood, boost energy, and improves body image.
- Let go of harmful habits
You may know how stressful work can get as a medical professional. Adding personal and other problems to the mix only makes the situation worse. In such cases, people often end up adopting bad habits as a way to cope with stress and other problems. This can include smoking, drinking, gambling, and so on.
Although these habits may provide temporary relief, they can be quite harmful in the long run. So, if you find yourself resorting to such activities to cope with stress, it is important to stop immediately. You can replace unwanted behavior with good behavior and reward yourself for little achievements to avoid tempting situations.
Being a medical professional is rewarding; however, it is not easy. This career requires a lot of hard work, commitment, and endurance. Consequently, health workers often get consumed by their jobs and fail to take out time and care for themselves. This may lead to burnout, poor medical performance, and a decline in mental and physical health.
So, it is crucial to take a break and focus on self-care. You can take care of yourself by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. You can also practice different relaxation techniques to help you manage stress and avoid burnout. It is also important to avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms such as smoking, as they can be harmful in the future. Achieve new milestones in your education and remind yourself that you are doing great!