This week I’m in Krakow, Poland attending the International Federation of Infection Control (IFIC) Congress. It’s been a number of years (14 to be exact) since I last attended this conference. I’m attending this year because I am excited to announce that next year IPAC Canada will be hosting the conference in Quebec City, Canada. I’m also lucky enough to be sitting on the IPAC-Canada Scientific Planning Committee where, with IFIC representatives, we are jointly planning next year’s topics! Watch for updates on the IPAC Canada and IFIC websites.
My first introduction to IFIC was in 2003 at the conference in Malta. Having attended as many conferences as I have over the last 15 years, I can say that IFIC is one of my favorites (and not just because it’s an opportunity to travel to different countries). IFIC is an organization of Infection Preventionists from countries and associations from around the world. IFIC is a group where your country or your level of infection prevention sophistication does not matter. It’s a group where like minds come to learn, to share stories, to network and build life-long relationships. It’s been amazing getting to rekindle friendships and build new ones.
But, I’m not just here to make friends. I’m here to learn. I’m here so I can share my learnings with others when I speak at conferences, when I’m looking at designing a study and of course through the Talk Clean To Me blog. So what have I learned this week? Too much for a blog so here are my top 3 sessions so far:
1. Prof Jacqui Reilly and Prof Kay Currie provided an afternoon workshop titled “Education & Training as a vehicle for change in IPC”. As both a trainer and speaker, the need to understand how to effectively design and deliver content is paramount. In the words of Woody Allen “Those who can’t do, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach gym.” How many times have we created what we think are amazing education presentations, handouts, flyers etc only to realize that the content or concepts were not absorbed or put into practice? It has nothing to with “you can’t train an old dog new tricks”, it has everything to do with how the material is presented. People learn differently; some are visual who want to work from lists, written instructions and be shown how to do things, some are auditory learners who say “tell me” and will be able to perform new tasks after listening to instruction and lastly some are kinaesthetic learners meaning the prefer to experience an try things out (you can identify them because they’re generally the ones who shove you out of the way to try it). I found out (well confirmed what I already suspected) that I have equal tendencies to all 3 ways of learning meaning the topic and / or my mood will determine which way I want to learn at any given time…. I can guarantee that I will be more mindful in how I develop content and strive to include a little bit of everything knowing that I won’t always have the luxury of knowing how my audience learns best.
2. Dr. Nizam Damani who was presented with the Ayliffe Award gave a lecture on ritualistic, wasteful and unsafe IPC practices. I was really a world tour reminding us that no country can claim to have perfect practices. People generally do not mean to be wasteful. People do not mean to work in a way that is unsafe and can harm the patients or themselves. People are habitual. They practice what they were taught or what they see others doing. As a disinfectant guru, the most shocking example was a facility who used Meropenem (an antibiotic given intravenously to treat bacterial infections) as a surface disinfectant – and not just any surface. It was used to disinfect a floor! As IPs we all have to wear our detective hats and always look for the unobvious.
3. Martin Egerth a Human Factors Expert from Lufthansa spoke about achieving a “safety first” culture in infection prevention and control introducing what the aviation industry does and has perfected for the last 25 years. I have so many notes and ideas from this session. Not just in terms of the parallels to healthcare and infection prevention, but for my company and how the concept could be put into manufacturing and logistics practices. It all comes down to having the right people with the right skills following the right processes. We also need to understand that continual training is needed. Perfection is not one and done. Building competencies and changing culture will not be immediate, it will take time to see the effect and it’s worth the effort to get there.
The conference is not over. Tomorrow I have a couple of topics that I’m looking forward to attend.
As always, thanks for reading! I know this week was a longer blog, but I think you visual learners will do just fine! If you’re an auditory learner give me a call and I’ll read the blog to you. If you’re a kinaesthetic learner, drop by the office, we can go for a walk and see if we can come up with novel hands-on ways for you to learn!