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Improving Hospital Safety Through Infection Prevention and Control

November 12, 2020

After graduating from the Dornsife School of Public Health in 2018, Kevin Smith, Master’s in Public Health (MPH) in Epidemiology with a minor in Infectious Disease  and Population Health, began working at the Temple University Hospital as an Infection Control Practitioner.

The alumnus, originally from Lawrenceville, NJ, has lived in Philadelphia for 10 years now and the city has provided many opportunities for him to grow in his career. “I was thrilled to have the chance to work in this field at a large academic medical center right after graduating,” he said.

In his role as an infection preventionist, Smith is responsible for the following duties:

  • Compiling data in support of the surveillance
  • Interpretation and reporting to the National Healthcare Safety Network
  • Monitoring infection control practices for performance improvement and recommending/implementing procedural or product changes
  • Leading in-service education programs after surveilling activities
  • Advising clinical staff about hospital procedures
  • Assisting in epidemiologic investigations of all significant clusters of infection in the hospital

Smith finds his work at Temple University Hospital to be fulfilling. “I’ve been involved in many collaborative projects which have led to changes that keep patients safer when in our hospital. The work that my team has done to limit hospital-acquired illnesses has made a true difference and we strive to keep improving,” he said. “It’s also especially rewarding to work on improving care for a hospital that is committed to serving a largely disadvantaged patient population.”

According to the 2020 Temple University Hospital Community Benefit Report, the Nicetown-Tioga neighborhood where the hospital is located has the lowest life expectancy across the city’s 46 neighborhoods — the difference is 18 to 10 years when compared to Center City East residents. This community experiences many health disparities due to social and economic inequalities.

For Smith there is also a personal tie to his work:

“I was compelled to enter this field because of a personal experience,” he shared. “Many years ago, a family member of mine suffered from many medical complications due to a surgical site infection. Seeing that experience first-hand certainly provided me with extra motivation to make a difference in this field.”

While at Dornsife, Smith had the support and direction he needed to pursue a career in infection control. Beyond learning in the classroom, he completed an Applied Practical Experience (APE) providing infection control and prevention support at Mercy Hospital Philadelphia. “The APE experience helped solidify where I wanted to be,” he said.

Smith urges current students not to be timid when voicing their interests. “Don’t be afraid to reach out to a faculty member whose research interests align with your own, as it could certainly lead to a great connection and possible opportunity in the future.”

As for his future, Smith hopes to continue his work in the hospital while also pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at Temple University.

Learn more about Dornsife’s Degrees and Minors

Learn more about the future of careers in infectious disease