The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored gaps in infection control knowledge and practice in healthcare settings nationwide. In spring 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) partnered with the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the League for Innovation in the Community College (League) to launch a new initiative to integrate enhanced infection control content into community college classrooms, with the goal of helping healthcare workers start their careers with the infection control knowledge and realities of practice they need to keep themselves and their patients safe. This partnership is a part of Project Firstline, CDC’s innovative infection control training collaborative, and is designed to further integrate essential infection control training and practice into community colleges’ nursing and allied health curricula.

Through this partnership, leaders across healthcare and community college education are working together to develop enhanced infection control curricula using Project Firstline training resources and real-world experience from hospitals and health system teams. Partners and community colleges are enhancing hands-on student learning opportunities within classrooms and community healthcare settings; creating a community of practice for infection control where faculty and practitioners work together on innovations in infection control education; and consulting with hospital and health system members across the continuum of roles to provide input and practical advice on how learners can become part of the broader organizational and team-focused infection prevention effort.

Why Community Colleges?

Community colleges educate a significant portion of the U.S. nursing and allied healthcare workforce. Community colleges also know how to meet the unique training needs of a diverse intergenerational healthcare workforce. Nationally, community college students are racially and ethnically diverse (less than half identify as White), nearly one-third are first-generation students, and most are working either full- or part-time while pursuing their coursework.1 Community colleges, which serve geographically and socioeconomically diverse communities across the country, are equipped to tailor training and educational resources to fill critical gaps in underserved communities.

Infection Control Curricular Integration

The pilot phase of the program began in summer 2021 across a range of community college settings. The CDC and AHA worked with the League and participating community colleges to establish cohorts of faculty teams in the areas of emergency medical services, nursing, CNA/LPN/MA, and respiratory therapy. Seasoned community college faculty within these areas worked through summer and fall 2021 to tailor the infection control curriculum for each professional domain and systematically phase it into coursework.

Participating Colleges

  • Albany Technical College
  • Big Sandy Community and Technical College
  • Columbus State Community College
  • East Los Angeles College
  • Edmonds College
  • Fayetteville Technical Community College
  • Independence Community College
  • Ivy Tech Community College
  • Jackson College
  • Johnson County Community College
  • Madison Area Technical College
  • Monroe Community College
  • Onondaga Community College
  • San Jacinto College
  • Seattle Central College
  • Tacoma Community College

Sharing the Learning: Project Firstline’s Community College Collaborative Convening

The Project Firstline: Infection Control in Community College Curriculum Community College Collaborative Virtual Conference, held April 4-6, provided community college health professions faculty and administrators with valuable resources and lessons learned from the pilot experience. If you missed this event, the on-demand content is now available. While there is no registration fee, registration is required. Register here for access through July 5.

In the recorded sessions, subject-matter experts from the AHA, CDC, and League share details of the Project Firstline pilot program that aimed to enhance infection control curriculum with community colleges’ existing health-related curricula. You will hear from community college colleagues on how they developed and implemented these curricula changes during the project. Additionally, the League hosted working sessions focused on teaching and learning practices and resources to enhance infection control curricula in nursing and allied health programs.

Project Firstline is a national collaborative led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide infection control training and education to frontline health care workers and public health personnel. The League for Innovation in the Community College is proud to partner with Project Firstline, as supported through CDC-CK20-2003. CDC is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of the Community College Collaborative Conference do not necessarily represent the policies of CDC or HHS and should not be considered an endorsement by the Federal Government.


Content in this article has appeared in previously published materials about Project Firstline.

1 American Association of Community Colleges. (2021). Fast Facts 2021


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