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Gary Evans writes Hospital Infection Control & Prevention (HIC), Hospital Employee Health (HEH) and contributes to IRB Advisor (IRB). As senior writer at AHC, Evans has written numerous articles on infectious disease threats to both patients and health care workers, including pandemic influenza, MERS and Ebola. He has been honored for excellence in analytical reporting five times by the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
Nashville: At risk of being overwhelmed by data collection demands, infection preventionists are also arguably at their highest profile in the field’s history in a time of Ebola, MERS, and the threat of other emerging infections and pandemics. Real reductions in healthcare infections once considered inevitable are proving possible for those that can find the time and resources to intervene and implement prevention strategies. For today’s IP, the opposite poles are the infamous silo and the patient bedside.
Fittingly, some 4,300 IPs at the just-concluded APIC conference heard tales of woe and adventure. Research reported at the meeting calculated that it takes a mind-numbing five hours a day to meet all the reporting requirements on health care infections to federal agencies and regulators. At the other extreme, IPs shared extraordinary accounts from the frontlines at the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Which way is the field headed? Well, epidemiologically speaking, the time-honored approach would be to establish a baseline. Yes, that means more data collection, but this time about the infection preventionists themselves. The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology is urging IPs to take to a collective look in the mirror and complete an unprecedented “MegaSurvey” to bring a profession at the crossroads into sharp demographic focus. The detailed information collected will not only set a baseline but “frame the future” for the profession, Katrina Crist, MBA, CEO of APIC said at the opening session of the conference on June 27.
All eligible APIC members should receive an email with the subject line “IPs: State of the Profession” from firstname.lastname@example.org. All IPs who are contacted are being asked by APIC to complete the entire survey by July 31, 2015. The most comprehensive survey of its kind, the “APIC MegaSurvey: State of the IP Profession” is collecting crucial information related to IP demographics, organizational structure, practice and competencies, and compensation. All “full/active” domestic and international APIC members are invited to take the survey, though retired, student, and associate members are ineligible.
Understanding how other infection prevention programs are structured and staffed, as well as how much other IPs are paid based on experience, credentials, competencies, and regional differences are just a few of the ways this data can provide opportunities for the individual IPs, APIC notes. The association will leverage the data to build the case for greater funding for infection prevention and control programs. The survey is divided in four sections and takes approximately 45 to 60 minutes to complete. IPs will need little or no external information to complete the survey, which may be completed in multiple sessions.
So there you have it. APIC wants to know more about you, and by doing so, more about itself and the state of the profession. A highly informed view of the field is going to be critical if IPs are to get out to the wards and bedsides and be critical advocates for patient safety and worker health. As high profile as the field has become as a voice of evidence-based reason during the emergence of Ebola and MERS, there are the aforementioned pressures that threaten to relegate IPs back to the computer screen crunching numbers. And – I know you’re “shocked, shocked I say” – to read this, but there are still hospital administrators out there who need to be reminded again how preventing infections fulfills both ethical and financial imperatives.