In our Alumni Career Spotlight series, you will meet some of our alumni and learn about the important work they are doing to create a healthier nation and world.
Employer: IU Health-Methodist
Current position: Infection preventionist
Degree(s): BSPH-Environmental Health Science, IUPUI, 2013; MPH-Health Policy and Management, IUPUI, 2017
Why did you choose your major/program?
I chose public health because I knew I always wanted to be in healthcare but wasn’t sure I wanted to do beside. I took the undergraduate intro to public health class and instantly knew that was the career I wanted to go into.
Briefly describe your career path.
I started at the Indiana State Department of Health (IDOH) in 2014 in the immunization division as a field representative. I spent 3 1/2 years in that division and made my way up to the supervisor of the field representatives. I worked there all through grad school and when I was done with grad school I thought I wanted to do strictly policy work.
I transferred over to Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) and worked in policy work for six months but I quickly missed the public health aspect of my career. So, I went back to IDOH and did work in the Lead and Healthy Homes and the HIV/STD divisions. I decided to leave state government and got a job at IU Health Methodist in the infection prevention department. I have been an infection preventionist for the last 2 1/2 years and it has been the craziest time to be in infection control.
Describe what an average day for you might be like.
An average day for me starts with completing an analysis of all of the labs performed within the hospital in the last 24 hours. We look through the labs to ensure that any patient that needs an isolation order receives one in a timely manner. After that, we round on our specific units and work with healthcare staff to reduce hospital acquired infections (HAIs). The reduction of HAIs is the major focus of my job and we work on various projects to come up with new ideas to reduce these infections. My job works with a wide range of disciplines in the hospital and it is important to be able to work as a team.
What advice would you give your college self about pursuing your current career path or industry?
Some advice I would give myself in college is to explore as many facets of the public health industry. I wish I would’ve done more internships in my undergraduate year to help me understand what I wanted to do further along in my career. I was able to do this while working at an IDOH but I wish I would’ve been able to do it sooner.
What is a lesson learned at FSPH that you have been able to apply to your career?
I think a major thing that helped me in my career today is the understanding of how to work with various people to complete a project. I know that group work can be very frustrating at times but it is important to be able to work as a group, especially in public health. There is never a one size fits all solution and it is important to always bring in various people who have expertise in a variety of roles.
What is the most significant thing that’s happened to you since graduating?
I think the most significant thing that has happened to me is starting in my role as an infection preventionist right before COVID hit. I went into the role not completely understanding what I was getting into, and it has been a complete whirlwind.
When the vaccine became available, I was able to bring in my knowledge of immunizations and vaccination clinics to IU. Through that, I was able to help run the biggest COVID-19 vaccination sites at IU Health Methodist and at the Indianapolis 500. I will never forget that experience and the partnerships I made.
I got to work with old colleagues at IDOH, along with the National Guard to vaccinate thousands of people. It is an experience I will always look back on and be proud of how much we did for the community. I was able to also be part of the opening ceremonies for the Indy 500 last year and be recognized as a healthcare hero, along with other amazing individuals who helped combat COVID-19.
What’s next for you?
I am still working at IU Health and plan to continue my career as an infection prevention. However, I have started to do volunteer work again and I am currently on the board of the Indiana Immunization Coalition.
What is your favorite IUPUI/FSPH memory?
My favorite FSPH memory would be making connections with my peers. I have some lifetime friends that I made while attending IUPUI and they’ve helped me in my career path.