(BPT) - Every healthcare worker plays a critical role in infection control and protecting their patients, their coworkers and themselves from infectious disease threats in healthcare settings.
Over the past few years, the U.S. healthcare system and healthcare workers faced unprecedented challenges - highlighting the need to better support healthcare workers in preventing infections.
In order to address the longstanding gaps in infection control knowledge and practice, there are challenges left to overcome. These challenges include disparities in infection control expertise among the current healthcare workforce, structural gaps in infection control training and education, a lack of understanding in educational approaches for healthcare workers, and the framing of infection control as a combination of rules, policies and procedures.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledges the vital role each worker plays in making health care safer for everyone, and that they deserve education tailored to their learning needs and preferences. Through Project Firstline, a national education and training collaborative, the CDC offers resources that take into consideration the following 4 strategies to improve infection control knowledge and practice:
- Listen to healthcare workers
Healthcare workers need infection control education and training that resonates with their lived experience and addresses their needs. Project Firstline resources are developed with healthcare workers, specifically for healthcare workers.
- Appreciate the value of every healthcare worker and the role they play in infection control
Healthcare workers have shown that they are crucial in protecting patients and preventing the spread of infections. Applying infection control actions consistently and confidently - every person, every action, every day - saves lives. That's why Project Firstline develops resources that are accessible to all healthcare workers, regardless of their previous training or background knowledge.
- Recognize and acknowledge healthcare burnout and trauma
Healthcare workers have experienced an exceptional increase in burnout and trauma over the last few years. To meet the needs of healthcare workers, infection control training materials must consider workers' limited bandwidth and meet them where they are. CDC's Project Firstline offers training materials in the form of bite-sized content that is tailored for practice and on-the-go use for integration into the workday.
- Commit to healthcare equity
Educational resources and dissemination methods should be adapted to meet the needs of a diverse healthcare workforce. Project Firstline collaborators create translated resources for those who speak Spanish and multiple Asian languages.
Healthcare leaders seeking tools and resources to engage healthcare workers in infection control trainings can download and use Project Firstline's free materials. Resources and tools are now also available in Spanish.
To find out more, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/projectfirstline/healthcare.html.