As a high school student in Martensdale, Iowa, Krista Scott was an avid athlete, competing in five different sports. But serious injuries resulting in torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACLs) in both knees led Scott to consider options beyond athletics and ultimately helped her discover her future career path.
Realizing that she wanted to help others with injuries, Scott initially considered a career as an orthopedic surgeon. During her University of Iowa undergraduate studies, however, she thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could somehow prevent people from needing surgery in the first place?”
This led her to the UI College of Public Health, where in 2008 she received her Master of Science in industrial hygiene, based in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health. This degree program prepares students to prevent occupational disease and injury in industrial, environmental, and occupational sectors.
“I learned a wide variety of scientific principles and how to identify gaps where something could be improved,” she says of her education.
As an Industrial Hygienist at EMC Insurance Companies in Des Moines, Scott helps clients create policies and procedures to fill in the gaps in their own safety and health programs to prevent future problems. Her work includes a variety of roles, from providing internal and external training, completing on-site industrial hygiene surveys in various venues such as schools and manufacturing facilities, and working with clients to develop procedures for return-to-work and injury management programs.
“On a more global scale, I believe industrial hygienists and other safety and health professionals can truly make a difference in the lives of workers all over the world,” she says. “It is up to us to do everything we can to protect people who may not have the knowledge or ability to protect themselves.”
Scott sees her work as an industrial hygienist as preventative medicine.
“If I can prevent a person from becoming ill or injured, rather than responding solely when an injury or illness does occur, then I have definitely accomplished something,” she says.