When the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted travel while simultaneously increasing demands for Infection Preventionists (IPs), there was an immediate need for virtual training and education programs. With a large proportion of novice and self-trained IPs, it was likely there was broad variation in knowledge base and understanding of basic infection prevention practices. To address this need, we created a virtual education program, referred to as Infection Prevention University (IPU), within our healthcare system.
The IPU program consisted of 10 one-hour live educational modules, conducted virtually. The objective of this program was to provide standard, high-quality training to IPs to increase knowledge, demonstrate application to facility workflows, and identify available resources. The education modules included continuing education (CE) credits and used the interactive features of the virtual platform to mimic a classroom setting and provide contact hours for attendees. Topics included best practices, reporting and surveillance, outbreak and emergency response, and IPs role in the care environment. Topics aligned with the content outline for the certification board of infection prevention and epidemiology (CBIC). Instructors consisted of senior IPs partnered with subject matter experts for each topic. Sessions were recorded for replay and take-away tools were provided.
IPs with less than one year tenure were the target audience. Average attendance at each session was 80-100 IPs. Evaluations were positive, with attendees agreeing that the content enabled a higher level of performance (96% of participants), improved their professional skills (95%), will enhance future team practices (94%), and generated self-reflection and critical thinking (71%).
\In total, this virtual education program was able to address the need for basic infection prevention training during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing for newly hired and novice IPs to acquire skills while remaining in their facility. This provides a model for virtual programs and a potential substitute for in-person training.