iPNewbe: IP newbie: Get thee certified
IP newbie: Get thee certified
CIC can enhance authority
IPs today must be willing to learn, willing to change, become tech-savvy, and demonstrate their programs save lives and dollars. Certification in infection control — CIC — is critical if IPs are to gain the trust and additional authority needed to run effective programs, Christine J. Nutty, RN, MSN, CIC, president of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) emphasized recently in Fort Lauderdale, FL, at the group's annual conference.
"My passion is certification," she told some 3,000 attendees at the opening session of the APIC conference. "You cannot get the authority to handle more responsibility and increase influence unless you are an expert in your profession. You need to be certified."
Beset with unprecedented regulatory compliance demands, some IPs are suffering burnout while others are surviving and thriving by embracing change and fighting for positions of authority in their institutions. There now are infection rate reporting laws in 30 states and 12 separate statutes on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Nutty said.
That is putting a huge data collection burden in some programs, but Nutty urged IP collaboration and networking to help handle the demands. "It's amazing what you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit," she says. "Network with those in your [APIC] chapter."
Many IPs have been given more authority, moving up the management ladder because they are recognized as ones who can take on a task and get it done. Others have left the hospital environment to seek consulting opportunities in other settings.
"The future IP expert needs the authority to sit at the management table and influence administrators to save instead of spending millions of dollars on advertising and publicity campaigns," Nutty said. "You are not alone — the government is aware of what you do. They care and are putting money toward fighting infections and saving lives."
Humanize the field of infection prevention, Nutty said, urging IPs to tell the story of individual cases without using specific identifiers. "Tell your infection control committee and your administrator the story of the young mother who has developed an infection or the elderly woman who had an infection and lost her leg. Never forget these stories, because that is part of the reason we have such a passion for what we do."
Infection prevention has a rather colorful history, Nutty noted, reminding her medical colleagues that their chosen field of study can be traced back to rat trappers trying to eliminate bubonic plague in New Orleans in the early 1900s, before antibiotics were developed. Staph became resistant to the miracle drug penicillin in the 1950s, and thereby began the seemingly endless battle between the bugs and the drugs. The field began to become standardized in hospitals with the first infection-related standards during the period, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established its hospital infection program in the 1960s. While the anthrax attacks added a completely new level of bioterrorism to the field, another landmark event was the rapid emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003. "That opened our eyes that an infection can be Hong Kong one day and Toronto the next," Nutty said.
Now H1N1 pandemic flu is rapidly displaying the same global mobility. Beyond that, the next challenge awaits the infection preventionist.
"We need to be the best we can be," she said. "You must be willing to learn, be willing to change, [become] tech-savvy. Consider the resources. You need to always think about the cost."IPs today must be willing to learn, willing to change, become tech-savvy, and demonstrate their programs save lives and dollars.
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