APIC Creates Vision for the Future of Infection Preventionists' Competencies

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To access a slide show from ICT on infection preventionist competencies, CLICK HERE.

By Kelly M. Pyrek


It's undeniable that the role and responsibilities of today's infection preventionist (IP) bear little resemblance to the infection control practitioner of the past. While the core tenets of infection prevention and control carry over as the foundation of the profession, the expectations for the position itself have evolved such that a new framework is needed to help professionals respond to these demands. With many months of tireless work behind it, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) is unveiling not only an updated strategic plan that articulates the association's vision for the future through 2020, but a set of professional competencies that will help IPs chart a corresponding course for their professional development.

 
APIC says that because the healthcare system has reached a critical juncture between patient safety, infection prevention and quality of care, these changes represent an unprecedented opportunity for IPs to accelerate progress toward the elimination of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). As the strategic plan notes, "APIC leaders believe this is the right time to commit to an uncompromising vision and organize the association’s mission and goals around a plan to advance toward healthcare without infection. We propose to advance our mission to create a safer world through prevention of infection and embrace this bold direction through patient safety, implementation science, competencies and certification, advocacy and data standardization."

"It is the most exciting time in my 30-year professional career in infection prevention because now we are getting the attention, the respect and the visibility within our organizations to help make a huge impact on patient safety," says Michelle Farber, 2012 APIC president. "So our expertise and skills are being recognized and used. I think that the hospitals that are the most successful have developed the kinds of goals that we have outlined in our strategic plan. We want to give our membership the support they need by elevating the position so that they are seen as leaders within their own organizations or state regulatory programs or collaboratives in which they participate. We are at a real crossroads in terms of how we need to be perceived as the leaders in driving prevention efforts -- we are becoming more visible, and we are being recognized as a leader of these initiatives instead of just being a participant."


With the help of a consulting firm, APIC has identified the factors that are driving change and shaping the future of infection prevention; these are.
- The future of healthcare focused on prevention and cost control
- The integration of evidence and outcomes-based research
- Anticipating and influencing regulatory change
- Empowered consumers demand for transparency, safety and accountability
- An automated future for data collection and risk assessment
- A global interconnected world encourages collaboration
These factors helped shape the strategic goals that APIC has set to achieve over the next eight years. Let's take a closer look at the five goals.

1. Patient safety goal
Demonstrate and support effective infection prevention and control as a key component of patient safety.
The objectives and initiatives are:
- Collaborate and align with key infection prevention and public health organizations, agencies and, consumer groups, including international engagement, to demonstrate and promote effective infection prevention programs across the care continuum.
- Define key processes of care that are shown to prevent infection.
- Develop framework to optimize partnership between providers and IPs as part of infection prevention programs.
- Create tools that integrate elements of the science of safety into infection prevention programs.
- Identify and assess measures that demonstrate the impact of infection prevention as part of patient safety.
 Indicators:
 • Collaboration with organizations, agencies, and consumer groups at increased level
 • Adoption of key processes of care by facilities
 • Development and dissemination of evidence-based checklists and bundles of care in collaboration with physicians, other clinicians, and researchers
 • Adoption of framework by other professional organizations
 • Use of tools and resources by members
 • Recognition of IPs as patient safety leaders within their organization and by regulatory bodies

2. Implementation science goal
Promote and facilitate the development and implementation of scientific research to prevent infection.
Objectives and initiatives:
1. Define implementation science (IS) and demonstrate the value of implementing the science of prevention to members, partners, and stakeholders.
2. Identify gaps in the research agenda and address the gaps.
3. Collaborate with related disciplines and organizations in promoting implementation science research.
 Indicators:
 • Submission of well-designed scientific abstracts and papers in IS category at increased level
 • Presentations at the APIC annual conference and other meetings that demonstrate use of IS by members
 • Publication of white paper on gaps in research agenda
 • Funding for IS research at increased level
 • Submission of papers to peer-reviewed journals at increased level

3. IP competencies and certification goal
Define, develop, strengthen, and sustain competencies of the IP across the career span and support board certification in infection prevention and control (CIC) to obtain widespread adoption.
Objectives and initiatives:
1. Develop and refine APIC IP competency model and program for the career span.
2. Develop white paper and associated resources to support optimal use of the competency model for IPs and other leaders at the point of patient care.
3. Promote the value of CIC certification to key stakeholders, regulators, consumers and accreditors.
4. Explore options for supporting and recognizing IPs who have achieved an advanced/expert level of knowledge and skills.
Indicators
• Publication and dissemination of IP competency model to members and partner organizations
• Certification of 50 percent of eligible APIC members as CIC
• Contribution of CIC on patient safety and infection prevention identified through sponsored research study

4. Advocacy goal
Influence and facilitate legislative, accreditation, and regulatory agenda for infection prevention with consumers, policy makers, healthcare leaders, and personnel across the care continuum.
Objectives and initiatives
1. Advance the development and adoption of scientifically valid, actionable, infection prevention measures and the necessary technology support that promotes appropriate data collection.
2. Support and advocate for resources that promote effective infection prevention and control efforts, programs, and initiatives.
3. Promote active IP participation and collaboration with organizational leadership of providers, consumer advocacy groups, and payers to enhance infection prevention and control on all levels and points of care.
Indicators
• Awareness and understanding of HAI reporting measures and their role in prevention
• Expansion of infrastructure for infection prevention and control programs
• Communication and interaction with executive leadership at increased level

5. Data standardization goal
Promote and advocate for standardized, quality and comparable HAI data.
Objectives and initiatives
1. Support and participate in the strategic planning for advancing the description, collection, and reporting of HAI data.
2. Collaborate with government and private sector partners in initiatives supporting standardized and validated data for state and national reporting.
3. Advocate for expansion and interoperability of the electronic medical record (EMR) and standardized extractible infection data elements for state and national reporting.
Indicators
• Engagement of IPs in development and use of HAI data for reporting with greater frequency
• Use of HAI data validation processes by key stakeholders at increased level
• Adoption of surveillance technology to support infection prevention and control programs and integration of IP data functions into emerging EMR systems at increased level

Infection Preventionists' Competencies
APIC says that the challenges posed by healthcare reform will require the infection preventionist to become a collaborative leader who can engage people and groups to work toward common goals that eclipse their traditional roles, disciplines and past experiences. This leadership is fundamental within an IP's core competencies on some level, but the challenge has been to define these competencies within the framework of the healthcare industry's paradigm shift. A standard, widely accepted, comprehensive definition of professional competency remains an elusive goal, according to Murphy, et al. (2012) -- until now. As Murphy, et al. (2012) report, APIC has developed a conceptual model of IP competency that is applicable in all practice settings and is designed to be used in combination with organizational training and evaluation tools already in place.

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