Teaching Infection Prevention Teachers to Teach

October 23, 2020
Frank Diamond

Conference | <b>ID Week</b>

The education of IPs has become a topic of interest since the onset of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The novel coronavirus highlighted that there perhaps are not enough IPs, and that’s especially true since their knowledge is being sought by schools, businesses and other non-healthcare settings.

A program that helps foster the education of infection preventionists (IPs)—that is, helps the teachers of prospective IPs teach better—garnered positive feedback from participants in a study unveiled at ID Week.

“A CEE [Clinical Educator Elective] was highly valued and improved fellow self-assessed knowledge and skills in clinical teaching, even in those with prior teaching experience,” states the study “Creation of a Clinical Educator Elective for ID Fellows.” The study continued that “future evaluations of long-term retention in academic medicine and teaching performance can further examine this approach.”

The education of IPs has become a topic of interest since the onset of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The novel coronavirus highlighted that there perhaps are not enough IPs, and that’s especially true since their knowledge is being sought by schools, businesses and other non-healthcare settings.

In a Q&A with Infection Control Today®, Sarah Smathers, MPH, CIC, FAPIC, the system director for infection prevention and control at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), noted that 40% of IPs will probably retire in the next 10 years. Smathers and other IPs who’ve spoken to ICT®, said that too often there’s no real career path for IPs and that someone with 40 days of experience might be expected to do the job that someone with 40 years of experience has been doing. Smathers created a program at CHOP where IPs can have a career path and also developed an IP training curriculum at Drexel University.

Meanwhile, the study unveiled at ID Week was led by Dana M. Blyth, MD, the infectious disease fellowship program director at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The idea seems to have been that teaching is a skill that can be, well, taught.

“While fellows are expected to educate residents and students, they often receive limited formal instruction on how to teach,” the study states.

Blyth and her co-authors developed a 2- to 4-week CEE for senior ID fellows. “Goals were to increase fellow teaching engagement and promote excellence in medical education by improving understanding of adult learning theory and application to medical education,” the study states. The program used the Kern’s 6 approach:

  • Problem identification and general needs assessment
  • Targeted needs assessment
  • Goals and objectives
  • Educational strategies
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation and feedback

“A targeted needs assessment was obtained from CEE fellows at the start of the block,” the study states. “A reading list was created from key areas…. Instructional methods included flipped classroom, learner-led discussions, and exercises in evaluation and feedback of peer and faculty teaching. Fellows completed a required capstone educational project.”

Seven of 11 senior ID fellows completed the program, and their confidence about their teaching abilities and those abilities themselves, improved during the program, according to the study.

Smathers also said that the teaching of IP skills is something that seems to be greeted with open arms. She told ICT® that “I reached out to Drexel University and I asked if they would be interested in developing a certificate program and their master’s department at their Dornsife School of Public Health. And I worked with their team there to develop a curriculum. I teach a course on infection prevention and the healthcare environment that people can either minor in or professionals can get a certificate online. And we have gotten some great feedback that people who have graduated from that program have gone on and been able to get positions in infection prevention and control, where typically somebody with my type of background [molecular epidemiology] it was very hard to get into the field.”

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