The Role of the Student
Healthcare students are responsible for learning about infection prevention and control practices, becoming competent in infection prevention and control skill techniques, and becoming knowledgeable in infection prevention and control guidelines according to their healthcare role. To gain competency in infection prevention and control skills, students need to continuously practice in the classroom and laboratory settings, and then apply what they have learned throughout their healthcare placement with supervision and support from their clinical instructor or placement preceptor and faculty. As healthcare students, you must work in collaboration with other healthcare providers and students to create a safe environment.
As a student, infection prevention and control techniques may not always seem intuitive. There are general rules and guidelines that can help you as you begin to practice safe care according to infection prevention and control guidelines. For example, a general principle in practice is to clean from the cleanest to the dirtiest area. Another consideration when using personal protective equipment (PPE) is knowing the sequence to put on and remove PPE safely. We will discuss these practices in further detail in later chapters, but it is important to pay attention to general principles and rules that will assist you in your clinical judgement.
Do you know your role as a healthcare student?
It’s important to understand your role and investigate the infection prevention and control standards, guidelines, and best practices that your discipline follows. Compare these standards to your course learning outcomes and clinical placement policies. It is your professional responsibility to ensure your hands, uniform or professional attire, and medical equipment, are clean prior to providing client care.
As a healthcare student, it is your responsibility to become familiar with your profession’s specific infection prevention and control resources.
Getting Ready for Clinical
Before going to placement, you need to review relevant infection prevention and control resources including discipline specific requirements, healthcare agency policies, and course learning outcomes. Refer to your school and clinical placement office for specific protocols.
While at placement, review the agency-specific infection prevention and control policies. With assistance from your clinical supervisor, plan your care and identify where infection prevention and control practices will be incorporated to decrease the risk of infection transmission. For example, perform a point-of-care risk assessment before every contact with a client and the client’s environment to ensure the proper control measures are in place to prevent transmission of infections. Be aware of the infection process and how to break the chain of transmission in practice.
The more prepared you are for your practicum placement, the more confident you will be in yourself and your practice skills.
- Review infection prevention and control best practices and professional guidelines that you learned during your course.
- Practice infection prevention and control skills and create a checklist of the techniques that you will need to perform while at placement.
- Create a list of infection prevention and control resources that you may use during placement.
- Connect with your clinical instructor and faculty prior to and throughout your placement as needed. They are there to support you.
What should you do if the infection prevention and control information that you learned in your healthcare program conflicts what is expected at your healthcare placement?
Infection prevention and control guidelines are continuously being updated as scientists learn new information about each infectious microorganism, how the microorganism is transmitted, and the severity and effect of the microorganism on humans. Other factors that can change infection prevention and control practices can include the introduction of new cleaning and disinfecting products, new vaccinations, or new personal protective equipment and materials.
If you see conflicting information:
- Determine which information is most recent (e.g., review the year the source was published).
- Determine where the sources originate from (e.g., Public Health Ontario [Canadian], Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [American], World Health Organization).
- Clarify if the conflicting information is related to the population you are providing care to (e.g., acute care, long-term care, community setting).
- Ask your clinical instructor or placement preceptor for assistance as needed.
It is important that you keep up-to-date with new changes in infection prevention and control practices. Always review and follow the healthcare facility policies. If you have further questions about the content, seek out assistance from your clinical instructor, placement preceptor, or the healthcare facility IPAC team.
Documentation and Reporting
Prior to clinical placement, review infection prevention and control documentation. Determine what infection prevention and control practices and guidelines are required for your healthcare placement. For example, there will be different requirements if you are placed in a hospital setting versus a community setting. Depending on your clinical placement, it is important to review the infection prevention and control resources and the healthcare agency policies. Some healthcare placements may require you to complete an infection prevention and control module before attending placement. As a healthcare student, you are accountable for your actions; therefore, seek out support systems and resources prior to placement to assist your success.
While at placement, you may be required to document the care you provide to clients or actions you perform. Documentation refers to paper and/or electronic record-keeping of a client’s state of health and their care, including risk of infection. Each placement agency will have its own protocols on documentation.
As a healthcare student, you may also be required to report and submit forms related to specific incidents (e.g., needle stick injury). You must refer to your university or college department and clinical placement office regarding policies on what type of incidents must be reported.
Infection prevention and control strategies to consider when in practice;
- Wear your street clothes to the hospital and change into your scrubs or professional attire when you get to placement.
- During your shift, be mindful and avoid touching your face while at placement.
- Keep your food and drinks in your locker (don’t forget your lock!) or staff room.
- Likewise, change out of your scrubs before you go home at the end of your shift.
- Bring an extra bag or two to put your uniform and shoes in at the end of your shift.
- Disinfect any materials you bring with you such as your watch, notebook, pens, penlights, stethoscope, and stationery.
- Bring hand sanitizer with you to your clinical practicum to avoid bringing microorganisms from your placement back home with you.
The Role of the Student in Infection Prevention and Control Practices
This page was remixed with our original content and adapted from:
Clinical Procedures for Safer Patient Care – Thompson Rivers University Edition by Renée Anderson, Glynda Rees Doyle, and Jodie Anita McCutcheon is used under a CC BY 4.0 Licence.
This book is an adaptation of Clinical Procedures of Safer Patient Care by Glynda Rees Doyle and Jodie Anita McCutcheon, which is under a CC BY 4.0 Licence. A full list of changes and additions made by Renée Anderson can be found in the About the Book section.
Documentation in Nursing: 1st Canadian edition by Jennifer Lapum, Oona St-Amant, Charlene Ronquillo, Michelle Hughes, and Joy Garmaise-Yee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.