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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

Help Wanted: The Next Generation of Infection Preventionists

By Gary Evans, Medical Writer

A national survey of 4,078 infection preventionists shows that the field is approaching a demographic cliff, as 41.6% of respondents were age 56 years or older.

Partial results of the “MegaSurvey” by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) showed that 1,164 (28.7%) of IPs were age 46-55; 1,541 (37.4%) were aged 56-65; and 172 (4.2%) were age 66 or older.

“That tells us that we need to begin to engage younger people as the IPs of today are retiring,” says Linda R. Greene, RN, MPS, CIC, FAPIC, president of APIC. “We need to make sure we have a knowledgeable, competent work force.”

Though more details will be upcoming as additional analysis of the survey is completed, the partial results underscore that IPs are primarily concerned with staffing and resources. “The issue of staffing levels for IPs is perhaps among the most urgent and common concerns expressed by IPs,” the APIC survey notes. Thus staffing levels, organizational structure, and support of IP programs will be the subject of an upcoming analysis as more of the survey results are published, A related factor may be that approximately one-third of IPs are working beyond hospital settings across the continuum in long-term care facilities, outpatient settings, and ambulatory care.

"That seems to be the most urgent issue. When I first started infection prevention over 25 years ago, it was really confined to acute care,” says Greene, manager of infection prevention at UR Highland Hospital in Rochester, NY. “But if we look at infection prevention across the continuum of care there is a need for knowledgeable and competent IPs to [staff] all of the other settings like long-term care.”

For more on this story see the March issue of Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.