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

IPs working late and working longer, as aging field fights on under the banner of patient safety

Workloads continue to increase for infection preventionists (IPs) nationwide, as they deal with greater regulatory burdens even as emerging infectious diseases like Ebola require more time and training.

Hospital Infection Control & Prevention’s 2014 annual salary survey suggests that IP jobs entail long working hours. About 71% of respondents reported working more than 40 hours per week, and about 30% said they worked more than 45 hours per week.

Low IP staffing levels at many health systems means workloads will continue to rise.

“We conducted a poll, Oct. 10-15, about Ebola readiness, and 51% of respondents indicated they only have zero to one infection preventionist [on staff],” says Katrina Crist, MBA, chief executive officer of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology in Washington, DC.

“More importantly, there was a direct correlation between having more than one IP on staff and being more prepared,” Crist adds. “We are looking at how we can develop a strategy and prioritize to bring the message forward that personnel is a serious issue and needs to be better understood and addressed.”

Personnel issues are one of three top priorities identified by APIC: “We’re sounding the alarm,” Crist says.

Another personnel trend noted in the HIC salary survey was the rising age of IPs. Nearly 90% of the 56 respondents said they were over 45 years of age. More than 20% reported being 61-65 years of age, and close to 9% were already 66 years old or older.

“We need more young people; we need people in their 30s, so when people my age retire there are infection preventionists to take their place,” says Connie Steed, MSN, RN, CIC, director of infection prevention at the Greenville Health System in Greenville, SC.

APIC’s second top priority involves training when surge capacity is necessary, Crist says.

“What Ebola showed us is how time intensive training is,” she says.

Look for our complete IP salary and job report in inserted in the January 2015 issue of Hospital Infection Control & Prevention