In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

October 21, 2022

Infection prevention staff talk about challenges, rewards of their work

By In the Loop

Hear what colleagues in Infection Prevention and Control have to say about their changing roles, making an impact, keeping patients safe, being a germ geek and more.


In recognition of International Infection Prevention Week, Oct. 16–22, staff from Infection Prevention and Control across Mayo Clinic share thoughts on their work to ensure the safety and welfare of patients, visitors and health care staff, working collaboratively with colleagues to prevent and reduce the risk of infections.

"The role of an infection preventionist changes day by day and provides a unique career path for those who enter the field. The informal roles include consultant, problem-solver, teacher, web-page designer, regulatory expert, construction risk mitigator, practice expert, researcher, and the many more," says Alissa Hladilek, Mayo Clinic Health System in Northwest Wisconsin.

"Our career evolves as science evolves, allowing us growth in the area of infection prevention and control and leadership. The ability to make a positive impact across our organization and keeping both patients and employees safe from infections is a very gratifying aspect that we all acknowledge and enjoy," says Heidi Mausolf, Mayo Clinic Health System in Southeast Minnesota.

"The part of being an infection preventionist that I value the most is knowing that my work helps keep patients and health care professionals safe. I enjoy the variety of work — one day I may be working on construction risk assessments and the next day may be spent investigating an outbreak," says Ashley Brooks, Mayo Clinic Health System in Southwest Minnesota.

"Infection prevention professionals come from a diverse range of expertise, including backgrounds in nursing, public health, epidemiology and microbiology. I've been a nurse for 30 years. I've been an IPAC (Infection Prevention and Control) nurse for 17 of those years. I enjoy the scope of work, and let's face it, I'm a germ geek," says Denise Harrington, Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

"I found this career by accident while I was completing my MPH in Epidemiology. Originally, my idea was to be a veterinarian epidemiologist, but as soon as I found Infection Prevention, I knew I wanted to pursue it. I love the fact I can use the skills I have gained from my previous professions to this field," says Melody Wu-Ballis, Mayo Clinic in Florida.

"I love the work, I love the people and I think this job is so important. We get to work with nearly every department in this institution. I'm a nurse but you wouldn't want me on the floor. This is how I can contribute," says Jean Barth, Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

"This has been one of the most challenging and rewarding career paths I have ever had in patient care. Advice: Take a chance, be curious, and let a career in IPAC take you on an adventure that will change your outlook and your future," says Brenda Schwan, Mayo Clinic Health System in Southwest Wisconsin.


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Tags: Alissa Hladilek, Ashley Brooks, Brenda Schwan, Denise Harrington, Heidi Mausolf, Infection Prevention and Control, Jean Barth, Melody Wu-Ballis, Staff Stories

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