How to Avoid Getting Sick: Nurses Edition

Being sick on the job is no fun. It's especially hard to avoid when you're surrounded by sick people every day. Getting enough sleep and eating well can help to fight off illness-causing germs.

When you have a career in nursing you are surrounded by coughing, sniffling people on a daily basis. It can be hard to stay healthy around all those germs! Try these tips to avoid getting sick:

Eat nutritious foods
In order to prepare your immune system for the barrage of illness-causing microorganisms that you will experience on a daily basis, it is important to keep on top of your nutrition. This means eating healthy fruits and vegetables every day to provide proper vitamins and minerals for prime immune functioning. You don't just want to fight a cold, do your best to prevent yourself from getting it in the first place. Eat a hearty breakfast like eggs and whole grain toast to keep you from feeling hungry and having a sugar crash a few hours into your day. Have a healthy snack like an apple or carrots on hand for quick breaks. Try baked salmon with mashed potatoes and asparagus for dinner. You'll have a busy schedule so prepping meals ahead of time can be extremely helpful to keep you from grabbing that slice of pizza in the cafeteria at work. Avoid prepackaged, processed artificial foods and choose fruits and vegetables that have vibrant colors. They have the most beneficial nutrients for your immune system nutrients.

This one is incredibly important. If you are sleep deprived, your immune system is compromised and you are more likely to fall ill. If you didn't get enough sleep last night, do your best to grab a quick 20 minute nap during a break. This will help you to get some much needed rest and chip away at your sleep debt (the amount of sleep you need but haven't been able to get). Try to go to bed with enough time to allow for eight hours of shut eye every night. When you are tired at work, you may not be as on top of your duties as you normally would. Not only will you feel sleepy and miserable, your work will suffer and you'll be more susceptible to getting sick.

Wash your hands
Prevent yourself, your patients and  your coworkers from getting sick by washing your hands. Soap up between patients, before you eat, after you eat, before you leave and even when you get home. There are so many points of contact in the workplace, from patient charts and stairway railings to IV bags and glucometers. There is always an opportunity to wash your hands. It is also very helpful to keep your hands away from your face at all times. Don't bite your nails, wipe your eyes or scratch your nose without washing first. Once you get in the habit of properly soaping up it won't seem like such a daunting task. 

This article is sponsored by Western Governors University, a nonprofit, accredited, online university. WGU offers online RN to BSN, BSN to MSN, and RN to MSN degree programs to working nurses who already have a current RN license. To find out more, please visit

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