Watching the opening Plenary Session, “Infection Prevention through the Decades”, was an amazing way to re-experience the evolution of APIC and infection prevention from the mouths of whom built it. A much recurrent theme from the “Dynamic Dozen”, as the twelve Key Note speakers were called, was how many of them “fell into” the profession of infection control and prevention. I find this so interesting since most of these speakers, and many of the people I know from APIC, come from such diverse backgrounds. For example, Dr. Dennis Maki, one of the infamous twelve, was drafted during the Vietnam War in the middle of his medical training to work for the CDC as an EIS officer to investigate a hospital outbreak; and the rest is history. APIC attendees included everyone from nurses and epidemiologists to business owners and lawyers. I feel this really illustrates the long reaching fingers of infection prevention and how easy it is to get caught in its grasp.
Another way this was illustrated was through the breadth of knowledge covered during the conference itself. I personally attended talks on statistics, the knowledge of “consumers” of HAI rates of their hospitals, implementation science, regulatory definitions and policies, hospital outbreaks, pharmaceutical, current and upcoming research pertaining to IP, epidemiology, and—my favorite by far—discussing the weird goings-on that seem to occur in the name of infection prevention and control. Other topics that were discussed were hand hygiene (I avoided these talks on purpose), sterilization and disinfection, education, technology; the list goes on and on.
Although I do not feel that I have “fallen into” infection prevention; I definitely feel that my graduate school training did not prepare me well for the range of responsibilities an infection preventionist has—including starting the conga line at the closing ceremonies, Pat and Mary. However, now that I think of it, I don’t believe that the University of Michigan would find it appropriate to name a graduate degree course, “Really? They're doing what?? How to approach unusual events in infection prevention”. But hey, that is what conferences are for, right?
Lauren Cooper, MPH
Methodist Charlton Medical Center
Recipient of the APIC-National Conference Scholarship