As a nurse, you know that preventative medical tests and other measures can help fight disease and possibly even save lives. Your professional life is focused on taking care of the health and well-being of patients. Even in your personal life, you may be the family member who keeps track of routine medical appointments and schedules tests, vaccines, and checkups for everyone.
Question is, do you take the same care to maintain your own health?
For example, the CDC advises health care personnel to get one dose of influenza vaccine each year. Now is the time to get that flu vaccination but so many nurses, and other medical employees, don’t get around to it.
Some have objections to vaccination and want to exercise their civil rights by abstaining. Their concerns are usually related to religion, health, or safety, but that’s not true for the majority of nurses.
Most nurses who don’t intend to get vaccinated this flu season either aren’t convinced this vaccine works, or don’t believe that they personally require vaccination. (Superhero complex, perhaps?)
Infectious diseases professor experts insist that though the flu vaccine missed the mark last year against those influenza strains, it’s been up to 60% effective in recent years.
Maybe you’re ready to take your chances with your own health, but consider that a bout of flu means you risk infecting patients or going out of commission and not being able to care for patients at all.
Most likely, the bulk of nurses would get vaccinated if it were easy and convenient to fit it into their busy lives. Hospitals that make vaccines more accessible to their employees by setting up on-site stations for free vaccinations during every shift have high participation rates.
Almost as high as workplaces that mandate vaccination as a condition of employment or otherwise pressure nurses to comply by requiring unvaccinated personnel to wear a face mask, say.
If your health care workplace hasn’t made it easy to get vaccinated, take matters in your own hands. Commit to a day and time to stop at a clinic or pharmacy that offers drop-in vaccination. Most insurance plans will fully cover the cost of a flu vaccine, which isn’t expensive anyhow. Don’t put it off too long – make sure your protected before flu season is in full swing.
And of course you should continue to wash your hands often at work and to stay home if you do come down with the flu.
But don’t stop your self-care with a flu shot. Ask your health care provider what preventative care is necessary for you based on age, gender, family history, and other health risk factors.
For example, here are some of the screenings that may be appropriate for a woman between the ages of 18 and 39, according to the National Institutes of Health:
- Blood Pressure Screening
- Cholesterol Screening
- Diabetes Screening
- Dental Exam
- Eye Exam
- Physical Exam
- Breast Self-Exam and Mammogram
- Pelvic Exam and Pap Smear
- Skin Self-Exam
Stick to the same time of year for these routine tests, so you remember to schedule them and to make sure your insurance coverage applies. (An annual well-woman visit may be fully covered, for example, but only within 30 days of last year’s appointment.)
Make a note in your planner to call a few months in advance of when you’d like an appointment to be sure you can book it.
Take your preventative health care as seriously as you do that of your loved ones. That way, you’ll remain in good shape for a long time for them.
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