Alumna Sydney Henderson breaks into the field of infection prevention

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“As a completely online MPH program student, I was proud of myself that I could earn my degree while working full-time,” said USF College of Public Health alumna Sydney Henderson.

Born and raised in Loveland, Colo., Henderson attended Colorado State University and earned her BS in microbiology in 2009 and then a BS in clinical laboratory science from University of Nebraska Medical Center in 2011.

Henderson was introduced to the field of public health during her undergraduate career.

Alumna Sydney Hendersen, MPH (Photo courtesy of Hendersen).

Alumna Sydney Henderson, MPH (Photo courtesy of Henderson).

“The preventative nature of public health is what really interests me. Trying to protect individuals in our communities, hospitals, and areas worldwide from various public health problems is crucial,” she said.

After working in a clinical microbiology laboratory she realized she wanted to get into the field of infection prevention and found the COPH’s MPH program with a concentration in infection control.

“I didn’t find any other programs that had a concentration in infection control, so I became really interested the COPH’s program for that specific reason. The program matched up perfectly with my goal of becoming an infection preventionist and becoming CIC certified,” Henderson said.

“I loved that it was all online and could work full-time while completing the program. It’s really geared towards individuals who are already working professionals and are looking to further their career or change careers,” she said. “The program really prepared me to become an infection preventionist.”

During her time in the program, Henderson said that her advisor Dr. Donna Haiduven, associate professor in the Department of Global Health, inspired her the most.

“She showed me that while the field of infection prevention has been geared towards nursing that I could also break into the field of infection prevention without a nursing degree” she said. “Dr. Haiduven’s classes were also incredibly helpful and contributed most to my knowledge base that I have now.”

Dr. Donna Haiduven and Sydney Hendersen in Denver (Photo courtesy of Haiduven).

Dr. Donna Haiduven and Sydney Henderson in Denver (Photo courtesy of Haiduven).

After graduating in 2015, Henderson was hired as an infection preventionist at Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center and Rocky Mountain Hospital fro Children in Denver.

As an infection preventionist, she is responsible for disease surveillance throughout the hospital. She monitors hospital-acquired infections, reports diseases of interest to local and state health departments, and serves as an infection prevention subject matter expert for the entire hospital.

“I was attracted to the preventative nature of it. We work hard to implement best practices to make sure that our patients don’t get an infection in the hospital that they didn’t come in with,” she said. “These policies, procedures and practices keep patients as safe as possible during their stay.”

One of her proudest professional achievements to date was her team and hospital staff’s response to a child admitted to the hospital with measles.

“We were able to get the child isolated immediately upon admission,” Henderson said. “Because of our immediate actions we didn’t have any ill effects from the case, such as associated staff or patient exposures.”

Sydney Henderson and her Infection Prevention team at the 2017 National APIC conference in Portland, Oregon. (Photo courtesy of Henderson).

Sydney Henderson and her Infection Prevention team at the 2017 National Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology conference in Portland, Oregon. (Photo courtesy of Henderson).

Henderson said that in the future she would like to be in a managerial or director of infection prevention position. She would also like the opportunity to present a verbal abstract or presentation at the annual national Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology conference.

Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health

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