As someone who works in the healthcare industry, you are exposed to all sorts of germs, viruses and bacteria on a daily basis. While medical facilities do their best to maintain clean, sanitary environments, it is simply impossible to eliminate all of the potential pathogens. Hospitals and other facilities can, unfortunately, become major breeding grounds for dangerous infections. And if you aren’t careful, you could end up bringing those infections home with you after your shift.
Healthcare providers receive extensive training on how to prevent the spread of pathogens while at work. They don’t, however, always know what to do to keep bad bacteria out of their personal lives and protect their loved ones.
If you work as a healthcare professional, here are a few tips for leaving those nasty germs at work.
Healthcare providers don’t always know what to do to keep bad bacteria out of their personal lives and protect their loved ones. Here are valuable tips.
Why It Matters
Before we dive into the steps you can take to keep bacteria out of your life, we want to take a moment to discuss exactly why doing so is so important. As a healthcare professional, you come in contact with nasty and potentially lethal germs daily. A study conducted by Anders Hakansson, Ph.D., an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine & Biomedical Science, found that biofilm bacteria, including the bacteria that cause strep throat and ear infections, can live on surfaces for weeks or even months. If not properly sanitized, the bacteria on your nursing jackets, shoes, scrubs or even your pen could potentially spread throughout your personal life for much longer than you may realize.
Taking steps to keep the bacteria you encounter at work out of your personal life lowers your chances of getting sick. Doing so can also prevent you from bringing potentially devastating illnesses and diseases home to your loved ones. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to protect yourself and those around you.
Sanitize Your Workwear
Sanitizing everything you wear to work is one of the most important steps in preventing bacterial spread. Ideally, your nursing shoes should only be worn when you are at work and kept in a plastic bag in between shifts. They need to be washed and sanitized regularly, too.
Remove your scrubs immediately when you get home from work, and place them in a separate laundry hamper away from your other clothing. Ideally, this hamper should be a container with a lid rather than a standard open laundry basket or hamper. Be sure to disinfect the container regularly to eliminate any bacteria that may be lurking inside after you remove your scrubs to wash them.
When washing your nursing scrubs and scrub jackets, consider using a laundry additive to fight bacteria. When used with your regular laundry detergent, these products do an exceptional job of removing bacteria, viruses and more.
Practice Excellent Hygiene
As someone who works in healthcare, you probably wash your hands frequently when you are on the clock. Doing so is a huge step in preventing the spread of germs and bacteria. It is equally important, though, to practice excellent hygiene at home.
As soon as you return home from work, take a shower and wash your hair. Do this before spending time with family, preparing meals or eating. When you’re finished, put on clean clothes. This simple step can go a long way toward protecting your family and keeping bad bacteria out of your personal life.
Clean Your Car’s Interior Regularly
If you drive yourself to and from work, it could be loaded with bacteria. Ideally, you should take your nursing shoes off and place them in a bag in your trunk before heading home for the day. If you don’t, however, be sure to clean and sanitize the floorboard regularly. In addition, you should sanitize your steering wheel, driver’s seat and any other surfaces you touch–such as the turn signal lever or the dial on the radio–at least once a week.
Failing to clean your car’s interior regularly means that you will be exposed to any bacteria inside it every time you go for a drive. Plus, your kids, spouse and anyone else who rides in or drives your car will be exposed.
Keep ‘Work Only’ Items
Everything you use at work is likely to be coated in harmful bacteria at the end of your shift. To avoid bringing that bacteria home with you, it’s smart to have “work only” items that are kept in your locker or, at the very least, stored away from your home items.
Things like pens, watches, fitness trackers and other daily essentials can harbor more bacteria than many people realize. Avoid bringing the ones you use at work home to leave the germs behind. If you don’t have anywhere to leave them at work, seal them in a plastic bag and keep them in the trunk of your car in between shifts. Be sure to replace the bag regularly!
When you work in the healthcare industry, you are constantly surrounded by germs, bacteria and viruses. These microscopic organisms are simply unavoidable in hospitals, clinics and similar settings. There are, however, steps you can take to avoid bringing them home with you. In doing so, you are protecting yourself and safeguarding your family and loved ones against potentially devastating diseases and illnesses.
Simply making an effort to be more mindful of all of the places where bacteria can lurk is a huge first step. Think about the things you use and touch while you are at work, and consider what you can do to keep those contaminated items out of your home or separate from your other possessions and family. Practice good hygiene, and make sure you wash and sanitize your work wear frequently. These simple actions will go a long way toward keeping bad bacteria out of your personal life.
What are your favorite tips for preventing bad bacteria?
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