Why is the role of an infection control coordinator so important? How do you simplify safety so any dental office can appoint an infection control coordinator and properly train them? In this episode of Talking with the Toothcop, Michelle Strange and India Chance join Andrea and I to talk about the importance of having an infection control coordinator in your dental practice.
Outline of This Episode
- [2:17] The importance of an infection prevention coordinator
- [6:27] Who should fill the role of ICC?
- [11:41] Teamwork makes the dream work
- [21:00] How to communicate effectively with your team
- [29:21] Do you need an infection control coordinator?
Simplifying the role of an infection control coordinator
Let’s face it—the role of an infection control coordinator can be overwhelming. Infection control and OSHA guidelines, rules, and regulations have a lot of nuances. When people are overwhelmed, they tend to do nothing. So India and Michelle created the Level Up Infection Control podcast + company to create a community of support and simplify the role of an infection control coordinator. They share step-by-step how-tos and useful information and take you as the listener on a journey as if they were training you in-person.
Who should fill the role of ICC?
India and Michelle note there are a few things to consider, namely—who is interested? Do they have time to give outside of their clinical hours? Who wants to do it? A clinical background is important, but you can’t assign this role flippantly. They need great communication + problem-solving skills and can hold others accountable. You have to know your team members.
What if you don’t have someone that wants to take on the role? At this point, India points out that it makes sense to pick a clinical team member. A lot of the protocols and systems deal with the clinical side. You need experience with that to successfully implement those protocols and mandates.
The infection control coordinator role itself and what you have to manage can be extensive at times. The key to infection prevention is that it must be implemented daily. You can't let things build up and only review once every three months. Patients are looking at dental practices. OSHA is following infection control and prevention closely. Regardless of who you choose, they need proper training.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Getting things done comes down to delegation. If you’re the infection control coordinator, you don’t have to implement the whole program yourself—you can delegate. You have to prioritize and make the time to adequately address infection control and implement sustainable systems to support infection control efforts in your practice.
Michelle and India concede that it is a lot of time on the front end as you create processes, systems, and standard operating procedures. But as you start to become unconsciously competent you start to just “do it.” Creating a team approach where everyone knows their roles, will save you time.
Developing unconscious competence
How do you develop unconscious competence? How do you foster a team approach to infection prevention? Michelle shares that she once strolled into a room after a patient and threw the instruments that were used in the ultrasonic. But she got distracted and forgot to turn it on and run it. A new assistant pointed out that she forgot to turn it on. If she hadn’t said something, Michelle would’ve created a breach in infection control.
You have to have a team that notices and comes alongside to help you if something is missed. You have to keep each other accountable to keep your patients safe. The moral of the story is that you have to have an infection control coordinator role, but it is a team effort to implement an infection control program. If you’re committed to a team approach, each person helps to carry the load.
India emphasizes that infection control isn’t just about protecting the patient—it protects you as the clinician as well. This role protects every single stakeholder in a dental practice. It’s not your job to be the sheriff. But you must deliver the information in a way that is supportive, encouraging, and promotes change.
So how do you tactfully but firmly let someone know it’s time to make a change? How do you communicate with people that don’t like change? How do you motivate them to be changemakers? Keep listening to hear India and Michelle share their thoughts.
Resources & People Mentioned
- Level Up Infection Prevention
- Level Up Infection Prevention (podcast)
- A Tale of Two Hygienists (podcast)
- OSAP Infection Control Coordinator Role