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Winner of the 2023 Dr Joan Faoagali Award

Magdalena Di GiacomoThe Dr Joan Faoagali Award was set up by the College to honour Joan in celebration of her life and her considerable contribution to the IPC profession. The winner of the scholarship is awarded FIPC course fees. This year’s recipient is Magdalena Di Giacomo. Former ACIPC President Belinda Henderson, a long-standing friend and colleague of Joan caught up with Magdalena to congratulate her on her award and discuss life and work in IPC.

Congratulations on your win Magdalena! I’m so excited to have the opportunity to chat and talk all things IPC – tell me about your current role?

Hi Belinda! Thank you so much for the opportunity to catch up and chat about Infection Prevention and Control, I am so thrilled and honoured to have been awarded the Dr. Joan Faoagali award for 2022. I am currently employed as a Clinical Nurse Consultant in the Infection Prevention and Control Unit at the Townsville University Hospital. My substantive position with Infection Prevention and Control is a Clinical Nurse. I have worked in the unit since 2016. My role is continually developing particularly during the evolution of COVID-19, but I am currently responsible for supporting a team of ICPs and embedding sound infection control practices across a large health service organisation, with a clear patient safety focus.

What’s your professional background and what lead you to work in IPC?

I completed my Bachelor of Nursing degree at the University of Ballarat (Victoria) in 2010 and commenced working as Graduate Registered Nurse at the Warrnambool Base Hospital in the Acute Care Ward. In 2013, I made the decision to move to Townsville (where it is always sunny!), where I accepted a position as a Clinical Nurse in a government run Aged Care Facility. In that role I had a lot of opportunities to backfill Nurse Unit Manager and Clinical Educator positions and commenced a quality improvement project that developed an assessment tool for the early detection of the deteriorating resident. Following completion of the project, I had decided that I was ready to transition back to the acute hospital setting and applied for a permanent position in Infection Prevention and Control. When I commenced work in Infection Control I had a basic understanding of Standard 3 and what Infection Control meant, but I was and continue to be supported by an extremely strong team of highly skilled ICPs and am still learning new things every day. I feel very lucky to be in a position in my career that I am so passionate about.

In your application you highlighted that you’ll be looking to become credentialled next – that’s great news! What does credentialing mean to you in terms of your professional journey?

Absolutely! I’m really looking forward to joining a suite of credentialled ICPs in my team. I think from a professional development perspective it is a great opportunity to acknowledge my strengths, skills, and level of expertise in Infection Prevention and Control. I also appreciate the valuable contribution having a team of credentialled ICPS is to the health service organisation, and I am excited to add to that contribution.

You’re currently studying FIPC, I know it’s early on in the course but can you tell me what you are enjoying about it so far?

To be honest, I completely underestimated how much I would enjoy returning to study. Studying is always more enjoyable when the subject matter is relatable and because I really enjoy all things Infection Prevention and Control it has been a great experience so far. The content is diverse and engaging, and there is a lot of support from the course facilitators. It has also been a great opportunity to form strong networks with like colleagues.

And finally, what about life outside of study and work? What are your interests? How are you relaxing during this crazy pandemic time?

Life for me outside of study and work is an organised chaos! I have an almost 5-year-old daughter, a 2-year- old son and a wonderful husband who all keep me very busy when I am not at work or studying. In my down time I love to listen to a pop culture podcast or jump in the boat to catch and cook mud-crabs and spend time outdoors exploring. I think the silver lining from this pandemic is that it has become really easy to appreciate the simple things, like spending time with my family.

I know that Joan’s family will be delighted that the award has gone to someone so passionate about IPC. I will tell them all about you 😊 Congratulations again and all the very best with your studies.

Thank you so much Belinda, I really appreciate you taking to time to catch up with me!