New blood: APIC seeks to embrace 'diverse views'
New blood: APIC seeks to embrace 'diverse views'
What's in a name? For IPs, a lot
In a discussion that goes well beyond the implied semantics of a simple name change, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) continues to try to define its "brand" in a rapidly changing marketplace.
APIC opened its annual conference recently in New Orleans with a somewhat discomforting message from its president: Infection prevention is changing and APIC must change with it beginning with its name. In that regard, the APIC board is relaunching a narrowly defeated bid to rename the organization the Association for the Prevention of Infection. Indeed, with the public, press and legislators now fully alerted to health care associated infections (HAIs), infection prevention is at a defining moment. Both the stakes and the job profile are high for infection preventionists, who used to be called infection control practitioners. Indeed, it's not the first time (nor the second) the organization has tweaked its identity, but this one seems more significant than the old moves to change "practitioner" to professional or add "epidemiology" but keep the APIC acronym.
"If we honestly review and critique APIC's achievements, what becomes blindingly clear to all of us is that as an organization we have unrelentingly pursued the prevention of infection," said Cathryn Murphy, RN, MPH, PhD, CIC, MRCNA, president of APIC and a faculty member in health services and medicine at Bond University in Robina, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. "We have done that and continue to do just that in an ever broadening context, in ever expanding settings and in ever evolving formats all around the world."
In a poll of members last year the new name fell short of the needed 66% majority vote by less than half a percentage point. It will now be put to another vote. The more generalized moniker seems harmless enough, but to a solid third of the organizations roughly 14,000 members it represents a symbolic concession that the days of hospital-based "professionals" are giving way to a new era of generalists, consumer advocates, patient safety experts and, frankly, an array of shameless opportunists with the latest simple answer to the complex problem of HAIs. It begs the question, is the "big tent" approach the best strategy when the circus is in town?
Murphy thinks the risk is worth the reward.
"Recently especially in the U.S. a range of self-appointed experts in infection prevention has begun attempts to assert authority, assume prominence and develop recognition with regard to their ability to influence the delivery and future direction of infection prevention," Murphy told attendees at the APIC keynote session. "For APIC , aligning with these groups often brings great opportunities for symbiotic relationships relationships that do assist our pursuit of the organization's strategic goals. However, some of our members understandably perceive the involvement of non-hospital based, non-traditional infection preventionists as a potential erosion of APIC's perceived power. In contrast, APIC's board encourages our members to view it instead as an injection of diverse views."
This new blood is already apparent in APIC's membership demographics, which include "small increases in the proportions of members employed in senior leadership positions, those practicing medicine, those leading quality and patient safety departments and those working in non-hospital settings such as ambulatory and long term care," Murphy said. "May we continue to work warmly with these new players and become an even more influential and inclusive body of professionals as a result of the additional expertise they offer. May we be the first and foremost organization to which they turn."
That last comment may hold the crux of all of this, as APIC clearly wants to position itself as the solution to HAIs as new and increasingly influential players come into the field and assess the confusing lay of the land. The thinking may be that this is not the time to dig in and give the appearance that your prime motivation is protecting the identify and turf of your members.
"We firmly believe that the proposed new name more clearly reflects the organization's mission and the core business of our members," Murphy said. "Members have expressed concern, however, that by removing the word 'professional' from our title APIC is inadvertently deemphasizing our founding and core membership the frontline preventionists. Some members are concerned that without 'professional' in our title we expose APIC to the risk of one day being led by or influenced by individuals without experience at the frontline. The APIC board truly appreciates, understands and has considered that perspective in-depth. Nevertheless, we refute it. Clearly, with every decision that we make, our members needs are fundamental. However, the overriding question is not what does this mean to members, but rather 'Is this decision the very best one for APIC in terms of pursuing the achievement of our strategic goals?'"In a discussion that goes well beyond the implied semantics of a simple name change, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) continues to try to define its "brand" in a rapidly changing marketplace.
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