Nielsen’s interests in drug development and public health inspired him to apply to medical school with the thought of getting a separate master’s degree in public health policy down the road. When he heard about Loyola’s dual-degree program in medicine and public health, he couldn’t help but think it was meant for him. “I felt that as a doctor I could save a few lives,” he says. “But if I also work in public health, I could help shape policy and health systems, potentially saving many more.
Now Nielsen is collaborating with Loyola researchers to improve antimicrobial stewardship practices in outpatient clinics. Coincidentally, the phrase “antimicrobial stewardship” was coined by a former Loyola professor, Dale Gerding, and refers to the appropriate use of antibiotics in clinical settings
During Nielsen’s first year at Loyola, his passion for studying antibiotics caught the attention of Fritzie Albarillo, assistant professor of infectious diseases at Stritch. The two are now collaborating on a project to increase awareness and improve antibiotic stewardship in Loyola Medicine’s outpatient clinics. Last year, the research team distributed a survey to several outpatient settings to gather a baseline of provider knowledge and an understanding of how patients perceive antibiotics. Based on that data, the team’s next steps are to share the findings, educate health care professionals on prescription guidelines, and empower them to inform patients about the proper use of antibiotics.