Nikki Cahalane has broken the mould with her high
standards and continued vigilance towards good hand hygiene.

Trainee anaesthetic technician
Auckland District Health Board

As a trainee anaesthetic technician, Nikki Cahalane is demonstrating exemplary standards of hand hygiene excellence early in her career.

“Nikki has really broken the mould with her high standards and continued vigilance towards good hand hygiene,” says Louise Morgan, a registered anaesthetic technician at Auckland City Hospital.

“I am very impressed with her continued motivation to have clean hands. Some trainees, by virtue of being trainees, need a few prompts to remember to attend to good hand hygiene – this is not so with Nikki,” she adds.

Louise has been particularly struck by how focused Nikki is with her hand hygiene during clinical procedures and interactions with patients.

“One thing that really stands out in my memory was the day that Nikki, while standing at the hand wash area of the scrub bay, said to me, ‘are you not going to wash your hands now?’” said Louise.

“Others may have taken this somewhat critically. However, I was stunned and amazingly happy that a first year trainee anaesthetic technician had said this to me because it meant she stood out in a most impressive way as a leader of good hand hygiene practice.

“If there ever is a situation where Nikki is unsure, she voices orally ‘I need to wash my hands’, or ‘I think we should wash our hands, eh?’ or words to this effect,” says Louise.

“I feel Nikki is merely confirming out loud what she is keenly training herself to be – a highly thoughtful and focused practitioner with excellent hand hygiene standards that will continue and flourish when she is fully qualified,” she adds.

Louise believes her own hand hygiene practice has improved thanks to Nikki. She has also seen a positive effect on the practice of others and in the availability and accessibility of alcohol-based hand rub throughout the department.

“As a healthcare practitioner it is vitally important to follow excellent hand hygiene standards. It is also tremendously important to recognise and encourage good and consistent efforts by trainees.

“What they see and learn in the early stages of their care can make a real difference to their hand hygiene practice for the years ahead.

“Nikki will undoubtedly be a hand hygiene champion for the rest of her career,” adds Louise.


“Hand hygiene is extremely important in the theatre environment to prevent the spread of micro-organisms from one patient to the next,” says Nikki.

“A nosocomial infection should be the last thing a patient should be worried about getting when they come into theatre. So I always imagine that I'm the patient coming into theatre and ask myself, would I be happy with the standard of hygiene care that I am receiving from the staff, that is, myself and my colleagues,” she says.

  • Start your day by using an appropriate cleaning wipe to wipe down all the bench surface areas, clinical trolleys, and high touch areas on the anaesthetic machine before setting up for the first case so you know that the working area is clean to begin with.
  • Don't be afraid to speak up to encourage others to improve their hand hygiene standards as we are all trying to accomplish the same result.
  • If alcohol based hand rub dries your hands, make sure you use an appropriate barrier cream first thing in the morning and at break times. This is really effective in preventing dry skin. Dry, scaly skin on your hands can harbour microorganisms and so this helps to ensure skin on the hands remains well hydrated and less prone to infection.