Sarah Wagner

Submitted 2022-10-16

Imagine the following scene. You walk into the trauma room as a nursing student, trembling in your shoes as you see a nurse standing with their feet shoulder width apart on a small stool with one fist clenched, the other hand placed on top, performing compressions diligently on a patient who has flat-lined. Everyone seems so poised and are operating like clockwork and seemingly robotically, with a confidence that exclaims, “We believe in every step we are taking to save this patient.” There is no panic, just professionals operating as a well-oiled machine. Using all their energy, they tirelessly pump every ounce of their own energy into saving this patient and do so without hesitation.

This is a scene encountered by medical students in an emergency department regularly. How can one possibly transform from the trembling student to the confident RN performing the chest compressions? With a well-balanced approach, anyone can be transformed into a medical professional performing emergency care without a single tremble. A person’s personal mental and physical health are critical to their possibility of being successful in the medical field. Ways for medical professionals to care for their mental and physical health include a myriad of practical steps.

First, a medical professional must make sure they are getting enough sleep each night. Sleep is crucial to human health, and it is often over-looked as a potential cause for physical stress. Lack of quality sleep can cause a medical professional an inability to perform at their peak potential. Seven to nine hours of sleep in a cool room averaging around 65-68 degrees Fahrenheit has shown beneficial to human rest. It is also imperative for people pursuing quality rest to keep their eyes off screens at least an hour before bed. A practical step one can take is to allow devices to charge in a room next to the sleeping room. This would force a person to get out of their warm, comfortable bed to look at their screen, and it is likely a person will not want to do this once comfortable. These are a few ways to help ensure sleep hygiene for the medical professional.

Exercise is another, often underestimated, yet critical health component. Exercise releases endorphins that help people to function at an optimal level. Aiming for a 30-minute walk at least five days a week is an attainable, yet incredibly beneficial way to maintain the healthy mental and physical wellbeing demanded by the medical profession.

Socialization is another critical component to human health. Humans were created to be in community with others. People are designed for deep human connection and interpersonal relationships, and in our fast-paced culture, people must slow down and take the time to schedule intentional time to socialize and connect with others. This can be done over a coffee date, a book study, or a visit to a lonely friend or family members’ home. It is pertinent for the medical professional to have some other content to focus their conversations on other than the redundant and sometimes, heartbreaking medical problems patients bring with them, and this can be achieved with intentionality in socialization.

Diet is another component to mental and physical health. The adage, “You are what you eat,” has many layers of truth to it. Too much sugar, too much caffeine, not enough protein, and many more inconsistencies in the American diet can have detrimental effects not only on our physical health but our emotional health, too. Taking time out of our week to budget and plan for ways to eat healthier not only can be done but should be built in to ensure longevity and success as a medical professional. Buying food items that are on sale on any given week in a grocery store of the shopper’s choice can be a great way to save money yet ensure a variety of macronutrients and other vitamins and minerals are in their diets.

Taking extra time and effort to care for their bodies and building in healthier habits will maximize the medical professional’s time with patients, especially in the experiences in which they must perform life-saving techniques. It allows medical professionals to come back day after day to one of the most honorable and rewarding professions, a profession in healthcare.

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