Certificate Program- worth it?

Posted
by Jaysie1 Jaysie1 Member

Specializes in Emergency Department.

I have been working as a staff nurse for several years now in a busy urban Emergency Department and hold a nursing MS degree (a direct-entry CNL program). I have always been interested in transitioning to the IC&P field and am looking for advice from RNs who already work in the specialty.

Advice on where to start? Here are some specific questions:

1) I found an online certificate program from American Sentinel. It sounds like it would cover all of the topics I would need to learn: epidemiology, surveillance, etc., but I'm not sure if it would be an acceptable training program for an IP&C position. Any opinions?

2) Does a certificate program like the one at AS mentioned above prepare you to sit for the CIC exam?

3) If a MS in nursing plus the certificate program is not enough to apply for positions, what else would I need? A MPH?

Thanks!

iprn

iprn

Specializes in Infection Prevention. Has 2 years experience. 11 Posts

Hi Jaysie1!

I currently work as an infection preventionist (a.k.a. infection control nurse). In order to be eligible to sit for the CIC exam, you have to currently work in the infection prevention field. Here's a link to test eligibility: New 2015 Eligibility Requirements | CBIC, Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc.

I would check out APIC.org for more info about our profession. That's our profession organization and they offer training courses that employers sometimes prefer in their job listing. I don't know too much about American Sentinel's program so I can't comment on that. For a cheaper option, I did a UCSD extension fully online class (Fundamentals of Infection Prevention/Clinical Epi)

Fundamentals of Infection Prevention/Clinical Epidemiology - UC San Diego Extension

However, I did that class when I was already hired into the field and wanted to get a foundations course in.

Your MSN won't hinder you in the hiring process (and I don't think you need a MPH unless you want it for personal growth) but I think the lack of infection control experience is going to make it a bit more challenging to break into the field. I would look into joining your current hospital's Infection Prevention Committee, just to gain insight on the current IP issues in your facility. At my previous facility, my dept worked with 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. It'll also help you get to know your infection control folks, just in case they have an opening in their department. That seems to be the most common story I hear from my colleagues: they were in some other type of nursing position and then an opportunity opened up in their current hospital's infection prevention dept and that's how they started their career in infection prevention.

Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions!

Edited by iprn

JordiesMomRN

JordiesMomRN

Specializes in CCU, Infection Control. Has 9 years experience. 39 Posts

Hi iprn!

You always post such informative information! You passed on excellent advice to the OP. I am a new infection preventionist, working in an acute care medical center and I am always looking for educational opportunities. I plan to attend an APIC beginners conference in the fall. In the meantime, did you find the Fundamentals of Infection Prevention course that you mentioned in your post helpful? Would you highly recommend it? I reviewed the website and it looks like it is very interesting.

Thank you for your time!

Edited by JordiesMomRN
Punctuation mark missing :)

iprn

iprn

Specializes in Infection Prevention. Has 2 years experience. 11 Posts

Hi JordiesMom!

How are you liking the field so far?? I think if you are taking the APIC fundamentals class (EPI101), you don't need the UCSD Extension class. I only took it because my current hospital at the time didn't have the budget to send me to EPI101 and I wanted to take a cheaper fundamentals course to beef up my infection prevention baseline knowledge. My current facility will be sending me to EPI201 this Fall! Pretty excited to check out Austin and learn! For more education, I would check out your local APIC chapters - they usually do an educational component during their meetings (where you can earn CEUs) and some chapters put on local conferences that are much cheaper than the National APIC conference. If you do get the opportunity to go to the national APIC conference though, I highly recommend it. I went last year and it was so much fun and educational. Networking is also a huge part of our profession, so definitely get involved in your local APIC chapter if you get the opportunity!

Jaysie1

Jaysie1

Specializes in Emergency Department. 94 Posts

Thanks, iprn! Your post is so helpful! There is actually an opening in my facility, but requires 3-5 years of IP experience. Not sure how one gains this experience in the field! I am already our unit's IP liaison, but so far we have just spearheaded a few projects on the unit level with the hospital IP staff. It hasn't given me any experience in surveillance or other skills I would need on the corporate level. Do you think the APIC class would be a good resume booster?

I really appreciate your advice so far!

JordiesMomRN

JordiesMomRN

Specializes in CCU, Infection Control. Has 9 years experience. 39 Posts

Jaysie1~

I just wanted to offer you a tiny bit of advice. I am very new to the infection control world, I have only been an IP since January 2015. I have worked as an RN in the case management dept, as well as the ICU. I had no "experience" in infection control when I applied for the IP position. I did some research with one of the IPs as part of my BSN coursework and nursing practice council, but that was about it. I have always liked infection control, epidemiology, and the like. When my healthcare system posted an opening for the IP position, I just went for it! Yes, they advertised for an IP with 5 years experience and CIC. I met with the director, we talked at length, she thought that I would be a good fit for her department, and she hired me!! I am really enjoying my new position. My director is very supportive. Every day is a new day. I have so much to learn, but I am so motivated and excited.

I say......go for it, apply for the position. You just never know.....Good Luck To You!!

And thanks again to IPRN for all of your great advise.:up:

Edited by JordiesMomRN
Grammar

iprn

iprn

Specializes in Infection Prevention. Has 2 years experience. 11 Posts

Yup, I totally second JordiesMom's advice! I would have a conversation with the manager/director of the IP department to see how open they are in potentially taking on someone new to infection control (or just test the waters with the current IP staff). You have the added advantage of already knowing your hospital and having working relationships with the staff present. Another good advocate for you would be your current department manager/supervisor (if you are open into letting them know and they are okay with you wanting to move into another specialty). I can see it being difficult to move within hospital departments if your current manager isn't supportive of your move (hard to keep an internal transfer hush hush and the infection control manager/director usually has some sort of working relationship with all nursing managers in a hospital).

Your strength would be your bedside experience and even though you don't have a lot of infection prevention experience, I think you already have a good head start as your dept's IP liaison and spearheading a few projects! It mostly gives you an opportunity to be on their radar so someone can vouch for you if your name comes up as a potential candidate.

Another thing I would look at is the experience mix in your current IP department. If the department has mostly newbies, they may not be interested in taking on someone new. If the department has a good experience mix (some with more years vs. others) or mostly experienced folks, then you may have a better opportunity at joining the team.

The APIC classes are pretty pricey, so I think it is a bit of an investment without a guarantee of a return at this moment. I think most people take them when they are already in the field and either their employer is paying for it or they are looking to boost up their fundamentals/skill set while they are on the job (and potentially use that as leverage to move to another job). I've never been in a hiring position so I wouldn't know how much influence taking an APIC class has on the overall decision making process with IP experience or lack thereof factored in.

Jaysie1

Jaysie1

Specializes in Emergency Department. 94 Posts

iprn and JordiesMomRN,

I just wanted to thank you both again for your advice. Can I share an update? I followed your advice and chatted informally with a member of the IP staff after our last committee meeting, and- wait for it- learned of an opening in the department! I discussed the transfer with my director and she has been very supportive. So, long story short, I applied and have an interview- tomorrow!

Any advice on what to focus on, considering my prior experience is clinical? I know I have lots of enthusiasm for the field and a willingness to work hard to learn the ropes. In fact, I followed your suggestion and am about halfway through the UCSD- Extension course now. The issue is that it is a small department (two IPs and a brand new director) for a relatively large teaching hospital. What can I do to convince them to take a chance on someone so green?

Thank you again!!

Edited by Jaysie1

iprn

iprn

Specializes in Infection Prevention. Has 2 years experience. 11 Posts

Hey jaysie1!

Thanks for the update!! I didn't get a chance to see this post until now so I hope your interview went well. It is awesome you took the initiative to sign up for the UCSD class - hopefully you had a chance to bring it up at your interview! Your strength IS your clinical experience!

Actually, your IP department size sounds about right...and if it is a large teaching hospital, they are probably quite understaffed (my dept is only 2 IP + 1 manager + we have data/admin support. I did interview at a place that had 6 IPs + 1 director...which is pretty rare, I think). Ideally, it should be 1 IP per 100 or so beds (not even factoring in acuity mix (ICU beds), whether the hospital is a trauma center/teaching facility, any ambulatory responsibilities, etc...) but budgetary-wise, it is challenging to staff to those levels.

Anyways, hoping to hear more good news from you! :yes: Happy Nurse's week!

JordiesMomRN

JordiesMomRN

Specializes in CCU, Infection Control. Has 9 years experience. 39 Posts

Hi there Jaysie1,

I am sorry that I could not send a reply before your interview. However, I have a great feeling feeling that it went well. Provide an update on your interview when you have a chance!

Jaysie1

Jaysie1

Specializes in Emergency Department. 94 Posts

Thanks, guys! The interview did go very well, but they chose to hire an experienced IP in the end. They sounded very torn about it, but with the department under-resourced, they really couldn't mentor me. I understood. They tried to petition the hospital to create additional FTEs for the department, with me in mind, but the hospital voted it down. I'm disappointed, but not giving up. There aren't many positions in IP where I live, so it's disheartening but I'm committed to finding a way into the field somehow. Thanks for your support!!