Keeping infection under control

Young doctor provides NJC nursing class with guest lecture

Emeen Kiureghian

Big words  were being tossed around like the infectious agents they represent  on Friday when students in the licensed practical nursing class at Northeastern Junior College were listening to a presentation by a young, soon to be doctor. Emeen Kiureghian, a medical student at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Bio Sciences was a guest speaker in an arts and skills class taught this week by Mary Lederos at Northeastern Junior College .  Bringing in guest speakers always adds value to the instruction, especially when it is another young person who is willing to share his or her experience and education.

Kiureghian, who calls Los Angeles home, is now just months from completing his training to be a doctor. He took his boards in August and is currently in Sterling doing a rural rotation in the family medicine clinic  of Dr. Durand Kahler, DO.  Kiureghian, who did his undergraduate studies at the University of California, Davis,  has been doing rotations in the Denver area for the last 15 months and has several more to go to complete his training.  He did one rotation in Pueblo at the state mental hospital, but is required to spend time in an even smaller, rural setting and he was assigned to Sterling.  Most of the rotations are a month in length.  Kahler also did his physician training through the same  Kansas City medical school.  Kiureghian is assigned to Kahler’s office until September 24th.

“I’ve done a rotation now in almost every major hospital in Denver,” Kiureghian explains. “At this point, I’ve  been doing  emergency care and lots of basic surgeries at these locations.” He wants to specialize in emergency medicine once he begins his full-time career in medicine.  He told the students he had a difficult time deciding between emergency medicine and straight surgery. “I love both and I especially like doing procedures, so I hope that by doing emergency medicine, I will get to do the occasional surgeries, too.”

From helminths and mycoplasms, richettsia and protozoa to vectors, pathogens and surgical asepsis, the young doctor was on campus to discuss infectious agents, their many stages and how the medical community deals with them.  With the vast growth of drug resistant infections, Kiureghian assured the students that preventing them in the first place is the total key to keeping them at bay.

“There are roughly two million cases of noscomial, or hospital acquired, infections every year,” he told the students. This, he said, works out to be about one in every 136 hospitalized patients, which demonstrates why it is so critical that nurses know how to prevent infections.

 “People don’t typically die from burns, “  he said, “they die from the infections that often come with the burns because their immune systems are so compromised.”  He discussed maintaining the good health barriers to infection such as healthy skin, not only for the patients, but the nurses as well. He gave the students some basic tips about ways to make sure their own skin stays healthy.  He spoke about the definite need to always be washing hands, but how the side effect of washing  with soap or alcohol based hand sanitizer  can dry out your hands which can lead to cracking skin.  Cracks in the skin, no matter how small, are open invitations for infection to climb on board and travel to the next location or patient.  “Using moisturizer to keep your own skin healthy can be equally as important as hand washing  when dealing with patients.

Among the items he discussed with the students was how infectious agents, in a medical setting, can be carried around on clothing. “Many of them live for an extended period of time regardless what the surface might be. Studies show that some doctors have spread bacteria from one patient to another via a neck tie,” he shared.  “As a result, physicians are becoming more and more diligent about all aspects of prevention. “When I’m in a surgical setting, I never wear the same scrubs out that I wear into a hospital ,” Kiureghian  said, noting that he, and most doctors, now make sure they are taking similar precautions  with clothing and footwear.

The licensed practical nursing students will be having a scrub lab in the near future. Kiureghian reinforced the importance of knowing the proper way to scrub.  “Friction, lather and time…can’t emphasize this enough,” he said, referring to the hand washing technique used by medical professionals. “It is still the most effective way to eliminate the spread of infection.”

Kiureghian has been on campus several times during his rotation in Sterling. He met with pre-med students during a special meeting to talk with them about what all is involved in getting through medical school.

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