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Ryan Piccolo

SFU Student Undergraduate
Health Sciences › Population and Public Health
Co-operative Education › Local Co-op

Working as a Regional Hand Hygiene Auditor has provided me with invaluable experience in the healthcare sector, allowing me to develop my knowledge in Infection Control and Prevention (IPC) while working with various healthcare professionals to improve hand hygiene compliance rates.
Experience Details
Application and Interview Tips
  • Familiarize yourself with Hand Hygiene practices 
  • Develop proficiency in data collection and analysis 
  • Review your knowledge of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 
  • Practice public speaking and presenting/educating in front of stakeholders
Introduction + Preparation
Previous Experience

Before securing a position as a Regional Hand Hygiene Auditor, I had limited experience in the healthcare sector as this was my first co-op work term. However, I was able to apply the skills and knowledge gained from my Health Science and Statistics classes at SFU to this position. My background working in a recreational setting for years provided communication and teaching skills which were also beneficial for this role. 

During my Experience
Orientation and First Weeks

The orientation provided a smooth transition into my first co-op term. The initial weeks were spent at the Fraser Health Offices in Surrey, where I immersed myself in learning hand hygiene policies, data analysis, and the auditing process. My supervisor at the time, gradually shared knowledge and training materials ensuring I first grasped the basics of Infection Control and Prevention through SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and quality improvement guidelines. Once comfortable with the material, I accompanied my supervisor on site tours and care home layouts and completed shadowing audits. When I was comfortable enough and able to demonstrate a strong proficiency in hand hygiene, I was able to independently conduct audits.

Day to Day

Every day there is something new to look forward to. There are dozens of Fraser Health services in the lower mainland that need to be audited in locations ranging from Burnaby to Hope. My team and I are required to observationally audit most acute care (inpatient only) and long-term care facilities within specific periods. Initially, I was placed at Burnaby Hospital, Ridge Meadows Hospital, and Fraser Canyon Hospital, I audited these facilities monthly. Starting the work day involved driving to facilities to perform observational audits for the first half of the day. The second half of the day consisted of driving back to the Fraser Health offices in Surrey to meet up with my co-op team for reporting in the afternoon. Currently, in my second work term, the schedule varies, I now visit different sites every shift and spend the full day there auditing and reporting.

As an auditor, the goal is to work with healthcare providers to measure hand hygiene compliance rates and identify factors that may reduce rates. An important part of this role is educating healthcare workers on hand hygiene practices through constructive feedback which reminds workers to always be mindful of their hand hygiene when in contact with a patient's environment.

When audits are all complete for the day, I organize and summarize collected data to share results with unit managers. These audit results provide managers insights into team performance on hand hygiene and highlight areas for improvement.

Learning and Adaptation

After working in this role, I have realized how critical hand hygiene practices are and how overlooked at times. It is one of the easiest, most efficient and cost-effective ways to prevent the spread of pathogens and disease transmissions in day-to-day lives. Healthcare providers can work together to focus on hand hygiene practices to help prevent any outbreaks in hospitals that can impact patients and visitors.

Accomplishments and Challenges

Occasionally, I would have the opportunity to train healthcare providers on the process of auditing and hand hygiene policies. I felt this was an accomplishment as it provided the opportunity to enhance my communication skills, deepen my understanding of Infection Control principles and contribute to the overall improvement of hand hygiene procedures within the Fraser Health Authority. 

Although you get to visit a new site every day, this does involve driving to different locations throughout the Lower Mainland. At first, it felt demanding and tiring since I wasn't used to driving as frequently but as you continue into your work term you start to get used to it. Having the option to choose audit locations does help, as you can select more convenient locations. 

Reflection & Tips

Deepening my understanding of Infection Control principles, promoting hand hygiene, and improving my data analysis skills during this co-op has been an invaluable experience that will help me academically and professionally. The overall goal of working with healthcare providers to increase hand hygiene compliance rates reinforced my commitment to positively impacting the healthcare environment. 

Most Valuable Aspects of This Experience

This role offers an excellent opportunity to gain practical experience in a real work environment. I improved my communication and data analysis skills that I can utilize in future positions. Being able to work alongside healthcare professionals provided valuable insights that contributed to my professional growth. Additionally, working with a supportive co-op team made my experience much more exciting!

Advice for Future Students

This co-op offers a fantastic opportunity to explore the healthcare sector through clinical and non-clinical settings. Not only is the experience valuable, but it also exposes you to diverse health occupations that may interest you in the future. 


Ryan Piccolo

SFU Student Undergraduate
Health Sciences › Population and Public Health
Co-operative Education › Local Co-op
visibility  190
May 9, 2024