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Infection prevention and control is for every nurse

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By: Rasheda Jones, PhD, RN; Brittany DiNatale, BSN, RN; Katie Boston-Leary, PhD, MBA, MHA, NEA-BC; Kendra McMillan, MPH, RN

Refresh your knowledge through ANA Project Firstline.

Nurses have always played an important role in infection prevention and control (IPC). The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted this fact. Evidence demonstrates that IPC functions most effectively when all members of the healthcare team consistently apply best-practice principles and protocols. Within the interprofessional team, nurses are well-positioned to serve as IPC advocates, using risk assessment and problem-solving skills to optimize safe patient care environments.

Nurses are trained experts

IPC core principles are integrated into the foundation of nursing education curriculum. The application of these principles guides our practice and should be second nature to every nurse. Nursing education gives us an in-depth understanding of IPC and empowers us to educate others.

The nursing profession emphasizes excellence in many skills, particularly problem-solving. Because of our unique perspective as nurses, we can effectively identify IPC risks, opportunities for improvement, and solutions applicable to the work setting. We know the ins and outs of our work environment and comprehensively understand how to implement changes that prioritize patient safety. Consequently, we rank among the most-qualified professionals to recognize gaps in existing IPC protocols, advocate for improvements, and provide education on best practices.

For nurses, by nurses

Project Firstline, a national training collaborative led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), creates innovative and engaging IPC education materials for the nation’s healthcare workforce to help them confidently effect change and education. ANA is one of 64 organizations partnering with the CDC on this initiative, which includes resources focused on identifying and addressing infection control challenges.

Nurses possess indispensable knowledge to re-evaluate protocols, enhance IPC strategies, initiate change, and further healthcare education. Because relevant IPC educational resources tailored to the unique nursing practice environment are critical, select Project Firstline content, developed by nurse subject matter experts representing a range of specialties and roles, are being released throughout early 2022.

The first two resources, released in January 2022, focus on vaccination IPC. These modules inform and refresh nurses’ knowledge of precautions and best practices to prevent infection before, during, and after injections, with an emphasis on multidose vials. An estimated 17 education materials on various topics, including the risk associated with nonsterile glove use and infection control review, are in development.

ANA Project Firstline tools are free and available to all nurses because IPC knowledge, practices, and solutions belong to every nurse, provider, and member of the healthcare team. All IPC efforts should leverage the expertise of nurses to advance effective continuous improvements and reduce risks to patients, healthcare workers, and the community at large.

Ultimately, ANA Project Firstline aims to make nurses the voice of IPC knowledge that will protect patients, colleagues, the community, and ourselves. Whether your position is in an inpatient or outpatient setting, in the schools, or in the C-suite, IPC is for every nurse.

Learn more at ANAProjectFirstline.org.

Rasheda Jones is education specialist and Brittany DiNatale is project coordinator for ANA Project Firstline. Katie Boston-Leary is director of Nursing Programs and Kendra McMillan is senior policy advisor in Nursing Practice and Work Environment at ANA – both are co-leads for ANA Project Firstline.

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