As a young girl, Whitney Daum spent a lot of time in the hospital. “I was born with a blood disorder and had several surgeries when I was a child,” says Whitney, who grew up in a small town in Ohio. Those experiences, although difficult, shaped her path and made her pursue pediatric nursing one day. During her BSN program at the University of Akron, Whitney got a job as a student nurse technician at Akron Children’s Hospital, the very hospital where she had been a patient herself numerous times. After graduating in 2009, she joined the hospital as a staff Registered Nurse, working her way into coordinating an inpatient neurology service.
A move to Colorado
In 2012, Whitney and her husband moved to Colorado for a new start. She got a job as a clinical nurse at Children’s Hospital Colorado and returned to school for a Master of Public Health (MPH) in epidemiology at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. “I’ve always had a great interest in the epidemiology of infectious diseases, and I liked the idea of adding to my skillset,” she says.
When Whitney graduated in 2014, she got a job as an infection preventionist at the University of Colorado Health’s Medical Center of the Rockies. She soon joined Denver Health and Hospital Authority as an infection prevention specialist. One year later, she received a notification about an open position at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center and Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children at P/SL. “I have admired Presbyterian/St. Luke’s for a while having known the infection prevention program structure, and I had a great feeling about the team I’d previously met,” she says. “I knew that it was a place I could be for a long time.” In February 2016, Whitney accepted the infection preventionist position at P/SL, which she still holds today.
A master’s degree to bolster her career
Although Whitney already had the MPH degree under her belt, once she moved to Presbyterian/St. Luke’s, she began thinking about an MSN. “I remain passionate about nursing, and as I’ve moved through my career, I feel that infection prevention is so very important and not always something that new nurses learn,” she says. The education gap, Whitney felt, is in nursing school—and she began thinking about how she could make a difference as an educator. “I decided that I’d need an MSN to teach. I started searching, and discovered American Sentinel had one of the few infection prevention-focused MSN degrees.”
Whitney liked what she saw in the MSN Infection Prevention and Control curriculum at American Sentinel and decided to go for it. She enrolled in her first class in October 2017. “I love the online structure of it and the eight-week courses, but I especially like the classes,” she says. “I think this degree will be very applicable in my role and as new opportunities arise to standardize infection prevention and control policies at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s and our sister facilities.”
More important than ever
Inspired by nurses who have come before her, Whitney feels that as an infection preventionist, she has the chance to make a lasting impact on her field. “The stakes are high in our industry, and there’s a greater emphasis on the importance of infection prevention and control,” she says. With an MSN, Whitney adds, she’ll be better able to add value to important industry conversations. “When I finish this degree in early 2019, I will feel truly equipped to do what I set out to do when I became a nurse. I want to educate future nurses about why infection prevention is so essential.”
Inspired by Whitney’s story? An MSN program can be your passport to a specialty nursing field, like nursing education, informatics, nursing management and organizational leadership, infection control, or case management. Specialized knowledge forms the foundation of these nursing fields. When you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.