Infection Prevention: COVID-19 and beyond
While at Beloit, Larkin Miers’17 intended to enter a career in nursing, but after learning about the responsibilities of an infection preventionist, she was hooked. After graduating from Beloit with a major in biochemistry and a minor in health & society, Larkin earned a masters degree in infection prevention and epidemiology.
Currently working as an infection preventionist at a hospital in Portland, Oregon, Larkin says she is a “subject matter expert” when it comes to preventing the spread of infectious diseases within the healthcare setting. Her initial interests were prevention of bacterial infections and antimicrobial stewardship, inspired by her undergraduate research work with Beloit College biochemistry faculty member Kristin Labby in the areas of drug discovery and antibiotic resistance. Recently, however, her work has been dominated by COVID-19 prevention and precautions. In her current job, she advises healthcare workers in all roles within the hospital regarding proper infection prevention standards. Her recommendations and working knowledge come from close collaboration with experts in infection prevention, including infectious disease doctors and public health authorities.
Larkin says the broadly applicable skills she practiced during her liberal arts education prepared her for entry to her unexpected career infection prevention. the courses she took at Beloit gave her repeated opportunities to develop and practice Beloit’s integrated learning outcomes (effective communication, productive collaboration, creative problem solving, and intellectual agility), skills she exercises regularly in her current work.
Larkin had to take time to test the waters in healthcare before deciding on her current role. She encourages current Beloit students to not limit themselves to the commonly known healthcare roles of nurse or doctor, as there are hundreds of lesser-known roles in healthcare that may be a better fit, some at the front lines, some more behind the scenes. “Don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you,” she says. “Find a field you like and jump in! You just might find a hidden career path.”