Staying Healthy While Working as a Healthcare Traveler

by Howard Gerber on April 25, 2013

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You found a great travel job and are excited to get started, but with a new job may come a little stress, working different shifts and a change in your exercise routine. Moving to a new area and starting a new job may also mean being out of your normal routine for a while. While you adjust, don’t let staying healthy take a back seat to your new assignment.

Most people know what they need to do to improve or maintain their health, but sometimes it can be hard to do what is needed. For instance, if you take a travel assignment and are away from your fitness center, you may let exercise fall by the wayside. Also, between the shifts you are working, setting up your new home and exploring the area, it may be hard to fit in exercise.

Do your best to find the time to exercise. It will help you maintain good health, and exercise is a great way to reduce stress. Fitness centers often have short-term contacts you can take advantage of while you’re living in your new area. Hospitals may also have a fitness center for employees or where you are living may have a fitness center on-site.

Getting enough rest is also essential to maintaining optimal health. If your travel job requires you to work overnight shifts, getting enough rest may be a bit more of a challenge. If you’re working graveyard shifts, it might be easier to try to have your shifts scheduled consecutively.  Additionally, be sure to make your bedroom conducive to daytime sleeping. Keep the temperature cool, get curtains which block out the light and consider a white noise machine to block out sounds from neighbors.

Another challenge to healthy living is eating right. If you’re busy working 12 hour shifts, eating hospital cafeteria food and fast food may be convenient but may not always be your best bet. One option is cooking all your meals one day a week. That way meals are in the fridge and can quickly be heated or packed to take to work. Do your best to skip the trip to the vending machines for a soda or candy. Sugar highs don’t last long, and calories can add up.

A few additional tips to consider before you start your travel job is making sure you are up to date on your vaccinations. States and individual hospital polices may vary regarding which vaccines are mandatory. Some common vaccines, which are often required for healthcare travelers include the MMR vaccine, tetanus, hepatitis B. Some facilities may also require an annual flu vaccine.

You may be required to have a physical before starting a travel assignment. If a physical is not required, it may be a good idea to get one anyway to be sure you are in tip top shape before starting work.

Staying healthy takes a lifelong commitment and is not always easy. Doing your best to maintain good health while working as a traveler will help you get the most out of your experience on the road.

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