As director of infection prevention at White Rock Medical Center Pat Jackson, RN, helps keep patients and employees safe. But she also quietly fills another role in which she helps millions of other patients whom she’ll never meet.
Jackson started at White Rock Medical Center as director of infection prevention in April 2022. She also serves as the 2023 president of the board of directors for the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), a 15,000-member national organization representing infection preventionists across the country and around the globe.
Infection Preventionists are specially trained professionals who promote a culture of safety and impact the health of patients, staff and visitors. They are the only specialists in healthcare dedicated to preventing infections. Some of their roles include tracking infection data, implementing evidence-based infection prevention practices and educating healthcare personnel on how to prevent the spread of infection.
Surprisingly, Jackson didn’t intend to take that route. She was working as a float nurse at another hospital when she temporarily filled a role in infection prevention that turned into a full-time opportunity. She took the role permanently because she fell in love with it, Jackson explained.
“Epidemiology is so interesting, and I love that it’s always different. Plus, I get to interact with all members of the healthcare team from surgeons to EVS, engineers and respiratory therapists. Instead of telling them what to do I love to work alongside them to help solve problems,” she said.
She got involved with the local chapter of APIC as a way to learn more about the field. She took on more APIC roles, including local chapter president, and then became more involved in the national organization.
In her current role as president of the APIC board, Jackson oversees the organization’s strategic initiatives. One of these involves creating an infection prevention academic pathway.
“We want to help more people purposely find and choose infection prevention as a career rather than falling into it like I did,” she explained. “APIC’s vision is a safer world through the prevention of infection. I love working with others to do that.”