How to land an infection preventionist position

  1. I have a couple questions regarding infectious disease jobs. I have a BSN with a year and half experience on a med/surg unit with charge and a year and half on an ICU unit. I currently travel in ICU settings. I have applied for an infectious disease position at a local hospital but feel like my experience is lacking in infectious disease. I was interested in classes, continuing education or any thing that could help my chances of obtaining this position. I have alwas been very interested in this aspect of healthcare.

    The job requirements did not state any additional training was needed but I feel like I want to know as much before (if) I get offered a position for my career, and it would help my chances. I have found classes online but they are very expensive, and online college certificate programs are also very expensive. Are those my only options? I thought about joining APIC but the courses on there are still expensive even with a membership. Anyway, I just want to know all of my options and what my chances are of landing this position.
    If anyone can chime in with their experience before landing the IP job, that would be great.
    Thanks
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  2. 7 Comments

  3. by   iprn
    Long time lurker, created an account to see if I can provide some insight. Not sure how I can help in terms of landing the job because I got really lucky as a new grad. I've been working in my current position since May 2013.

    Since your background is in ICU, I think that is very helpful because those patients are the most critical and has an increase potential of picking up Healthcare associated infections (HAIs). I noticed that you mentioned you are a traveler? I would look into joining your current hospital's Infection Prevention Committee, just to gain insight on the current IP issues in your facility. We currently have an ICU nurse on our CLABSI (Central line associated blood stream infection) team and she has been invaluable in narrowing the front-line issues that can cause CLABSIs. There are usually various hospital Performance Improvement committees related to IP issues (CAUTI, hand hygiene, C diff, etc...) and having front line staff provide expertise and guidance can make a real difference in tackling the issues.

    Look and see if there is a local APIC chapter in your area. It will be great for networking and also most meetings have an educational component that can provide CEUs on IP related topics. I also thought that the APIC in person classes (EPI 101 & EPI 102) were on the more expensive side so I looked for some online fundamentals class to take. Here's one that I liked that wasn't too expensive:
    Fundamentals of Infection Prevention/Clinical Epidemiology - UC San Diego Extension
    - offered by UCSD Extension, fully online (Fundamentals of Infection Prevention/Clinical Epi)

    Hopefully this is helpful and good luck!
  4. by   tronix304
    Thanks for taking the time to create an account to post your info for me.
    You landed the job as a new grad? What did the job description state and what size is the hospital? Did you have any related certifications, training, or degrees? I actually just started traveling, I moved out of the state and could not find a particular job that I was interested in so I took a traveler job in my area as PRN until I could find my ideal job. I decided on infection control because it interests me.
    One of the problems is that I do not believe that there is an infection prevention committee at my current hospital, I will double check with that though. How do I join the local APIC, do I have to have a membership to APIC? I noticed the EPI primer course offered there, the price is 240 for non members and 180 for members. Membership is 200$ (since I am not in a primary position for infection control). I definitely want to be a member but it is not in the budget right now since the move to pay 380 for the membership and the class. I might just have to wait.

    Thanks for the link, do you have to turn in transcripts, fill out an application, etc to take the class? I will have to look into that.

    Is there any other online courses that you know of? I want to have as much help as possible.
  5. by   iprn
    No problem. This site has been great for me and I'm happy to help.

    As for getting hired as an IP at my facility, my situation was definitely the exception, not the rule. While studying for the NCLEX, I was volunteering at the IP department and coincidentally, after I passed, the current IP decided to move to another hospital. I got along really well with the manager and expressed interest in the role. I got extremely, extremely lucky. I graduated with an ADN with a previous B.S. in Biology. No related certifications, training or degree but I conveyed that I'm interested in pursuing a Master's either in Nursing or Public Health (currently leaning towards PH) and also being certified in Infection Control (CIC) was on the top of my list (which I'm hoping to accomplish this year). I'm not 100% sure what the job description stated but I know it was written so that I had at least the minimum required qualifications (RN license, bachelor's degree in nursing or related field, certification preferred or within 2 years of hire). The size of my facility has over 300 beds and is a trauma 2 center in CA.

    I'm sure every acute care facility has an IP committee because I believe it is a requirement of Joint Commission accreditation. If not, I would look into your Quality Management/Assurance department. Our IP department is under QM. There has to be at least one Infection Prevention Practitioner in your facility (or infection control practitioner) so I would hit them up for more info.

    As for APIC, my dues are $185 + $15 for local chapter so also $200. Yes, you will need to join APIC to become a member of the local chapter but I know people just show up as "guests" to my local meetings. Everyone is really friendly. Here's a link to all the local chapters:APIC | Chapter Map

    For the online extension class, you don't have to turn in anything. You just enroll during the appropriate time frame. You also get 12 CEUs for the class. There is 1 multiple choice final and you can choose whether you want a letter grade or pass/no pass. Pretty informal and easy.

    APIC's EPI 101 & 102 is considered to be the "gold standard" in terms of the IP world for fundamentals classes. Since I'm not in a hiring position, I don't know how much weight EPI would be versus other fundamentals classes. Maybe someone else with more experience in the IP world can chime in on that.

    Depending on what area you are in, I would look to see if your state's Dept of Public Health have their own HAI Liasion program. Our HAI liasions hosts 2 day in person trainings on the Basics of IP (one in SoCal and one in NorCal) for free. Here's CA's website: Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) Program

    The IP world is insanely large and vast and we pretty much have our toes in everything at the hospital (since everything is and can be an infection prevention/patient safety issue). It can be incredibly frustrating at times but this has been such a great learning experience for me and I love my job!
  6. by   smilingbig
    Quote from tronix304
    The job requirements did not state any additional training was needed but I feel like I want to know as much before (if) I get offered a position for my career, and it would help my chances. I have found classes online but they are very expensive, and online college certificate programs are also very expensive. Are those my only options? I thought about joining APIC but the courses on there are still expensive even with a membership. Anyway, I just want to know all of my options and what my chances are of landing this position.
    If anyone can chime in with their experience before landing the IP job, that would be great.
    Thanks
    APIC's educational offerings are tailored to Infection Preventionists/Practitioners so they are perfect for what you want to go into. When I first started in IC I found them instrumental in creating a foundation for me to build on. If the position that you are applying for is an entry-level IC position, they do not expect you to have any specific IC knowledge, although it would certainly be helpful.
    I have come across some online nurse CE websites ( nurse.com-you pay about $45) that have some organism-specific CEUs that have some very good information regarding the drug resistant organisms that we are concerned about. You may want to gain a good understanding of these organisms and the mechanisms/processes that make them resistant & how they can be spread/controlled. They also have some good classes on general infection control/hand hygiene/EID/immunizations/etc. (For 1 CEU per class, not bad for $45.)
    Like the previous person had commented there are different ways that facilities fulfill the requirement for IC/IP. Some are associated with their quality management departments; at my facility we have our own department, Healthcare Epidemiology. There are 6 of us and we are all assigned ICUs and procedures to conduct surveillance on for HAIs. All inpatient facilities are required to report HAIs whether central line/ foley catheter/ventilator/surgical site related. Having a general understanding of NHSN (National Healthcare Safety Network) and different required reportable infections may be a good idea. Also, some states have different requirements for reporting HAIs... NHSN has a link to see those state specific requirements.
    I had commented on one of these threads before about when we had conducted panel interviews for a new IP in our department. Being willing & eager to learn and a team player are two of the most important factors that we looked for. We realize that not everyone is going to know the principles of conducting a TB exposure or how to collect denominator data for surveillance purposes, but it is critical to have someone who is willing to learn all that and work with folks that have experience in the field who are willing to teach (especially when new to the field).
    The fact that you have ICU experience is a huge plus. There is a lot of chart review that we do that having a great understanding of patient symptoms/condition will make your job easier to do. I came into Infection Control/Epidemiology from the TB world. I worked as a TB program manager/nurse so my experience working exposures and having a thorough understanding of TB really helped me. Since TB is a reportable disease I would be the person that my facility had contacted to report any suspected or confirmed cases of TB. So, I wasn't exactly a stranger to them when I had applied. Although, I did have some serious competition to get this job. I have since found out how sought after an IP/IC positions are.

    I hope I wasn't too late in my reply.... Good luck with nailing the job!!

  7. by   cecilbee1
    Tronix304, How'd it go? I have worked in Infectious Disease for over 4 years and would love to get an Infection Preventionist position.
  8. by   tronix304
    I did not get any of the positions I applied for. There were 2 or 3 I believe. They found internal applicants with similar experience as mine, which would be cheaper and easier to orient than a new applicant would. I have since then stopped applying since I was admitted into NP school.
  9. by   hopefulFNP2017
    Hey I'm wondering about this thread, if anyone continued to want to pursue IP?

    Tronix304: how did things go with the NP, and what path did you end up taking after that?

    I'm also in a program that leads to a BSN and then an NP, so I'm kind of thinking it'd be nice to work in IP since I have a background in health admin/public administration and the public health aspect appeals to me. But I'm trying to figure out how to break into it; if the "mold" for hospitals is to hire from within (like you said) and get an experienced internal nurse to assume IP duties.

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