What Does it Take to Be an Infection Preventionist?

jrupenski@medbest.com
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The devastating effect of COVID-19 on healthcare patients and staff has significantly changed the way healthcare facilities conduct daily operations. Drastic measures are being taken to prevent and control the spread of COVID. To lead the way are Infection Preventionists. These highly educated and certified professionals are in high-demand and quickly becoming key members of healthcare interdisciplinary teams.

What is an Infection Preventionist?

Most Infection Preventionists are RNs who hold an RN/BSN degree and specialize in preventing infections and stopping the spread. The title ‘Infection Preventionist’ is just one of several that may be applied to these professionals. They’re also referred to as Nurse Epidemiologist  or an Infection Control Nurse.

What is the role of an Infection Preventionist?

Because of COVID, the role of an Infection Preventionist has expanded and is quickly changing. More emphasis and focus will be placed on emergency preparedness and bio-preparedness along with new initiatives for readiness when it comes to the next outbreak or pandemic.

The role of an Infection Preventionist now includes but is not limited to:

  • Keeping abreast of CDC guidelines and updates related to COVID-19
  • Following infection practices to control disease transmissions via air droplets or airborne
  • Conduct research and studies to identify disease patterns in public or within a facility
  • Develop initiatives that will reduce the chances of patients and staff to contract disease
  • Collection of samples and lab work to recognize all problem areas
  • Tracking prevention, measure, and monitor active infections and incidences
  • Limiting the transport of patients with suspected infections
  • Ensuring all healthcare providers within facility have the proper PPE
  • Education of staff on how to prevent transmission to each other
  • Prepare reports that may be used for community education or to modify health policy

Where do Infection Preventionists typically work?

An Infection Preventionist usually works within a hospital, healthcare facility, senior living organization , skilled nursing home government agencies including the CDC, and other locations.

What certification is recommended for Infection Preventionists?

The most common certification sought by Infection Preventionistsis the CIC which stands for Certified in Infection Control and is through the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology  This certification process requires applicants to have a post-secondary degree and already have experience and be employed in infection control for at least 2 years.

 What traits are vital for Infection Preventionists? 

  • Willingness to be at risk. Infection Preventionists find themselves face-to-face with numerous infectious diseases. They are willing to put themselves at risk to help others
  • Strong immune system. Infection Preventionists must be able to fight off disease by having a having a strong immune system
  • Excellent people skills.  Because Infection Preventionists interview patients and discuss issues with colleagues, great people skills are required
  • Strong critical thinking skills. Since tracking down diseases, recognizing patterns, and finding the best course of action are crucial parts of the job, strong critical thinking skills is a must.
  • Problem-solving skills.  Infection Preventionists need to demonstrate that they have range of competencies such as logic, resilience, imagination, lateral thinking, and determination
  • Good math skills.  Since data must be analyzed to reach certain conclusions, math skills come into play. Math skills will help analyze the data and prepare reports

What is the salary for Infection Preventionists?

According to a July 2020 Indeed post, the average salary for a certified Infection Preventionist with 2 to 3 years of experience and Bachelor’s Degree is $75,111 per year in the United States. However, depending upon demand and location, Infection Preventionists can earn a six-figure salary!

What is the outlook for job growth for Infection Preventionists?

Today, Infection Preventionists will find work almost anywhere! According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for Infection Preventionists and Epidemiologists is expected to grow at a healthy rate. Overall, the Bureau reports that Infection Preventionists/ Epidemiologists will likely have good job prospects.

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