Andrea DavisAndrea LeBlanc Davis works as an Infection Control Coordinator at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, Texas. After earning her undergraduate degree at UT Austin, she received a master's in public health in epidemiology from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. 

What is your current position and what do you do? 
I work in hospital infection prevention and recently joined the team at Texas Children’s Hospital. As an infection preventionist, my primary focus is on the patients’ quality of care during their hospital stay. A hospital stay can be a high-risk experience given other sick patients in the unit and often multiple invasive devices and procedures. My job is to minimize these risks and keep them from impacting a patient during their hospital stay. To do this, I implement best practices to prevent and control infection in the hospital setting. I also perform surveillance on hospital-acquired infections, analyze infection data, and look for trends to help focus process improvement projects.

What do you love about your job? What aspects are most challenging? 
I love the opportunity to affect patient outcomes in a very meaningful way. I was initially attracted to infection prevention after realizing technology can advance medical devices and surgical techniques, but if a patient is exposed to infection and suffers serious morbidity or mortality none of those advancements really made a difference in the end. Infection prevention isn’t always tangible, but has a huge impact on patient outcomes and lives. I also love working in a children’s hospital where there is a widespread sense of passion and responsibility in providing the best quality patient care to our kids.

Why did you choose UT Austin? 
I was lucky enough to be introduced to UT by my older brother. He was the oldest and first to go off to college and chose to be a Longhorn. One year he took me to a home UT football game and got us field passes for half time. It was such a cool experience to be surrounded by cheering fans and to see Bevo up-close. Chris instilled me with a love of the Longhorns. But when it came time for me to choose where to go to college, I was drawn to UT by its strong academic and research reputation. It seemed like the perfect mix to earn a world-class education at the school I grew up cheering for, and getting to live in Austin was an added bonus.

What were your most influential courses and research experiences at UT?
Out of many new experiences in college, working as an undergraduate researcher was one that was particularly influential. Understanding how critical research is in moving science and engineering forward, it was something I was eager to get involved in early on in college. The experience taught me how to approach research questions with a critical mind and allowed me to see firsthand how principles taught in the classroom could be applied to solve real-life issues. Research opened my eyes to explore other aspects of biomedical engineering and the healthcare industry. I learned that I wanted to impact healthcare with more hands-on patient interaction and dynamic day-to-day work than say, working in a research lab. 

What were some of your most memorable experiences in BME?
The BME department at UT was unique in that it was very small compared to the thousands of students at UT and even some other engineering departments. It was easy to feel like a drop in the ocean sometimes, but in my BME classes this small group became a tight knit community of friends through my time at UT. We spent much time studying together in the computer lab and getting to know each other outside of the classroom. 

What can students focus on to improve themselves as potential candidates for jobs?
Cultivate a passion for learning and understanding things. Expose yourself to a variety of courses, experiences, and people to learn what interests you, and dive into it to learn more. Also open yourself to opportunities to demonstrate leadership and initiative beyond your grades. This can be through extracurricular activities, leadership roles, or research initiatives.

How did your experience at UT Austin prepare you for where you are today? 
College is a unique time of life where you are exposed to many different things, able to choose experiences that appeal to you, and tested by challenges to overcome. During this time, I was exposed to many different classes in the Cockrell School, volunteer opportunities around Austin and UT, student groups within BME and UT, and challenges along the way that taught me how to succeed and what my strengths and interests were.