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It would be fair to say that one of the things that healthcare graduates haven’t had much experience in when they first start navigating the healthcare jobs market is how to apply a bit of self-care when on the job. While no secret is made of the fact that any career in healthcare is bound to take the maximum effort and commitment, true preparation for the levels of stress commonly experienced by health workers only begins when they first step onto the hospital floor.

Levels of burnout are now higher than ever among U.S. healthcare workers, and this is no joke. Burnout is a very serious matter. The name might suggest a worker merely a bit too tired from overwork but related to this phenomenon are a litany of other profoundly serious conditions. Workers suffering burnout are significantly more likely to experience mental health problems, substance abuse, and even suicide.

Planning for Self-Care Before You Begin

Health Jobs, an online healthcare jobs recruitment service, says that while there might be plenty of negative things about the current talent shortage and job seekers market, it does actually allow new graduates to ensure that an institution encourages self-care as part of its workplace culture. The reason for this is that recruiters are fighting for talent and are usually eager to impress potential recruits. One of the ways of doing that is to boast about adequate self-care provision.

As part of that talent yourself, you can certainly ask about this, and even negotiate it when you find yourself in the interview room with a potential employer. Therefore, it is wise to ask what the provision for vacations are, what the institution is doing about the high burnout rates and, generally, how the institution promotes self-care.

What is Self-Care for Health Workers?

However, in order to insist on self-care provision, you need to actually know what it means. Although the employer can – and should – help, the responsibility for self-care ultimately rests with the individual, and there is certainly no substitute for learning how to practice it on a personal basis.

So, how can you go about this? Here follows some tips that will illustrate what self-care is in the medical context. They all involve the principle of putting yourself first:

Don’t Say Yes to Everything

Time off should be time off, not saying yes to covering another shift after you’ve been working flat out. Making time in the evening to spend with your family is self-care and it requires a firm “no” to that request to work late. Be committed but know your limits and have the confidence to insist you do not go beyond them.

Plan Out Work-Free Time Off

When you are not in work, you shouldn’t be thinking about work or doing anything related to it. To achieve this, you need to plan out your time off. Simply doing nothing during this period is a sure way to be enticed back into fretting about work.

Take the Time and Effort to Look and Feel Good

If you are in the position where you are so busy that you neglect to get properly dressed or you forego certain meals, then you certainly need to rearrange things. You should have the time to properly prepare yourself for the day and, if you don’t, you need to reduce your hours somehow.

Ultimately, self-care does come down to putting yourself first. If done in the correct context and with the understanding that when you work you really work, then there is actually nothing selfish about that. It is essential for your health.

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