For decades, many infection preventionists (IPs) got into the field by sheer serendipity, found out about their sleuth colleagues during an outbreak, or were otherwise exposed to a healthcare epidemiology practice that many find quite rewarding.

With shifting demographics and aging expertise, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) is creating IP curriculum for colleges and universities.

“Our workface is aging. We have a lot of IPs [who] will be retiring out in the next few years,” says Ann Marie Pettis, RN, BSN, CIC, FAPIC, president of APIC. “There is not this automatic pathway into infection prevention. People sort of stumble into it I know I did.”

Pettis was working in a newborn unit decades ago when she worked with an IP to investigate an outbreak. She found the work intriguing and eventually joined the infection control department.

The time has come for a more proactive approach by exposing college students to the field.

“We really understand that we need to be out there at the undergrad as well as the graduate level to introduce people to this,” Pettis says. “So they realize it could be a career path. We have been reaching out to different universities and colleges.”

An APIC task force is developing IP Academic Pathway core concepts, which will detail competencies needed to work successfully in the field as outlined by the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology.