It’s especially important for healthcare workers to practice proper hand hygiene
Washing your hands might seem like a straightforward task, but the healthcare profession is high stakes when it comes to germs. It’s crucial to take this simple step throughout the day to help keep yourself and others in your work environment healthy. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind, whether you’re at work or at home:
Take your time at the sink
To follow the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, stand at the sink for at least 15 seconds, rubbing your hands with soap. (If you have a watch with a second hand, glance at it before you start and see if you’re spending enough time. Or run through the song Happy Birthday inside your head—not once, but two times!) If you cut the washing time down, and you can miss some of the bacteria. If you leave the sink with bacteria on your hands, it can immediately start to grow and spread.
Check your technique
As someone working in a healthcare environment, you should pause in your day to make sure you are doing a thorough job of washing your hands. Massage between each finger and under the fingernails to do it right.
Turn that hot water on
Cold water doesn’t kills as many germs as hot or warm water.
Walk away from the sink with dry hands
What’s the best way to dry? A paper towel is more effective than a hand dryer, which studies have shown just introduces heat that actually helps the bacteria to grow. (If your office doesn’t have stack of paper towels near the sinks, ask if you can get some.)
Trim those nails
The longer your fingernails are, the more easily your hands get dirty over the course of your day. It’s easy to see dirt, which you can remove with a nailbrush, but there will also be microorganisms you won’t be able to spot. Trim your nails to ¼ inch for optimum hygiene.
Wash every time before or after certain activities
The office or facility where you work may have a specific handwashing policy, but you want to make it a habit to wash your hands before you come into contact with a every single patient. And it’s a good ideal to repeat handwashing immediately after you touch a patient in any way, or handle a sample or specimen.
If you’re interested in the science behind some of these suggestions, check out the CDC’s Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings and especially Show Me the Science.
At Harris Casel Institute, we care about our students in terms of their career training as well as their general well-being. Reach out to us to learn more about the various programs we offer.