Put your coat on! Wash your hands! These are just two of the things you'll hear teachers and parents say when the flu or a bad cold is going around. They'll also probably tell you to keep your distance from anyone who is sick.
If you're unlucky enough to come down with a cold or the flu, it often means a trip to the doctor. Doctors and nurses can examine you and figure out what's wrong and how best to make you feel better.
But what about the doctors and nurses themselves? Your parents tell you to keep away from people who are sick, but doctors and nurses can't do that! It's their job to be near and take care of sick people all day long.
How do doctors and nurses keep from getting sick? The simple answer is that they don't. Doctors and nurses get sick just like you do from time to time. Just like when you're sick and have to miss school, doctors and nurses sometimes get sick and have to miss work.
Many doctors and nurses have healthy immune systems, because they have been repeatedly exposed to various viruses and germs. Even the healthiest immune system can't protect you from every single germ and virus, though.
Doctors and nurses can come into contact with germs and viruses in many ways. Sometimes it's through direct contact, such as when they shake your hand or touch you during an examination. At other times, germs and viruses spread indirectly, such as through the air from a sneeze or being left behind on a doorknob that's later touched.
To avoid getting sick any more than necessary, doctors do many of the same things that they tell you to do to stay healthy. They eat right and get plenty of rest. They also exercise and try to keep their bodies in top shape.
At work, they wash their hands regularly. They also routinely clean items they touch often, such as stethoscopes and computer keyboards.
When doctors and nurses do get sick, they usually take time off to rest and get better. They understand that it's best for them to get better as quickly as possible and avoid transmitting germs and viruses to their patients.