Why Making Healthy Choices for Yourself Can Help Your Patients
By Kimberly Rae Dixon, Contributor
Caring for your patients' health is your top priority as a travel nurse, but it shouldn't mean that you neglect your own well-being. Healthy travel nurses provide better care to patients, which means that looking out for yourself is actually one of the best ways to put your patients first.
Nurse health affects patients
According to a 2017 survey conducted by Ohio State University
, which surveyed 1,790 nurses across the United States, 54% of nurses report being in poor physical health. Approximately a third of nurses' mental health was suffering due to depression, anxiety or stress. In addition to poor health affecting the quality of life of nurses and travel nurses, the negative impact that nurses' personal health concerns have on patient health is astounding. The survey results also indicated that nurses who are in poorer health are between 26 and 71% more likely to make errors at work.
The benefits of travel nursing
are enormous. They include higher pay, better insurance plans, 24-hour clinical support, flexibility, freedom and the ability to travel and regularly experience new places and assignments. While these benefits can certainly relieve some of the everyday stress that the average nurse feels, there's no denying that travel nursing is a high-pressure job at times, and that pressure can lead to both physical and mental health issues. Follow some of the tips listed below to begin putting your own health first.
To give your career a boost and experience the benefits of travel nursing, search available assignments
on NurseChoice or apply
to connect with a recruiter today.
Try to eat healthy and stay hydrated
Every travel nurse can appreciate the convenience of grabbing a snack from the vending machine during a long shift or hitting the drive-through for a coffee and an easy breakfast on the way into work. Unfortunately, processed convenience foods can lead to a feeling of sluggishness as well as weight gain, increased hunger and an increased risk of nutritional deficiencies and diabetes
, according to the National Institutes of Health.
That doesn't mean that you have to prepare gourmet meals for yourself each day —instead, opt for easy-to-prepare sides such as whole grain rice, pasta or breads and fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. Serve them with a simple baked chicken breast or in a stir-fry with tofu. Try to pack leftovers and healthy snacks to eat during your shift, as well. When you do choose to eat out, limit your portions.
A healthy travel nurse also drinks plenty of pure water during the day. Adults should aim to drink 48 to 64 ounces of fluid each day to prevent dehydration
,according to the CDC. Dehydration can lead to foggy thinking, mood swings and fatigue, all of which may negatively impact patient care.
Keep a healthy sleep schedule and limit caffeine intake
According to the National Institutes of Health, adults aged 18 to 60 should sleep a minimum of seven hours per night
. According to the CDC, nearly one-third of adults
don't fulfill this requirement. There is a direct correlation
between stress and sleep, and nurses' mental health can take a hit if they don't spend enough time sleeping.
Travel nurses who find it difficult to unwind at the end of the day should consider limiting their caffeine intake, especially during the final few hours of their shifts. Many healthy travel nurses also like to unwind by taking a yoga class or participating in another form of exercise at the end of their day or by reading a book, taking a bath or meditating.
Take advantage of the resources that are available to you
As a travel nurse, you have plenty of resources available to you that can help you in your career. When you work with NurseChoice, you can access free continuing education units, which help you excel in your field and keep your mind sharp. You also have access to 24-hour clinical support, a tool the helps to reduce stress and minimize errors on the job. Additionally, to maintain a team of healthy travel nurses, NurseChoice offers several other perks
that include health and fitness club discounts.
Following the tips listed above is a great way to make sure that you're making your own health a priority. Making these healthy choices, among others, can help you ensure your patients receive the best care possible.