APIC's Road Map for the Future of Infection Prevention

June 12, 2012

By Michelle Farber, RN, CIC

In this dynamic healthcare environment in which infection prevention and quality of care are central issues, we have an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate our progress toward the elimination of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).  
APICs board of directors and leaders believe this is the right time to commit to an uncompromising vision and organize our mission and goals around a plan to advance toward healthcare without infection. APICs mission is now to create a safer world through prevention of infection. (http://www.apic.org/About-APIC/Vision-and-Mission)

Last fall, the 2011 board invited input from APIC members, scientific partners, government officials, industry partners, and a broad range of key opinion leaders to develop the APIC Strategic Plan 2020 to advance APICs mission through five encompassing goals: patient safety, implementation science, competencies and certification, advocacy, and data standardization.

One of the  goals that I would like to highlight is the competencies and certification goal; that is, to define, develop, strengthen, and sustain competencies of infection preventionists (IPs) across their career span and support board certification in infection prevention and control (CIC®) to obtain widespread adoption. Our focus to support the professional development of APIC members is described in a new whitepaper titled, Competency in infection prevention: A conceptual approach to guide current and futures practice, which was published in the May issue of the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC). Board certification in infection prevention and control is critical to professional development and IP competency. CIC® is our professions distinct credential that signifies mastery of specialized infection prevention knowledge.

The value of certification is becoming more apparent and relevant than ever before. A recent study in AJIC linked better patient outcomes with infection control certification. Increasingly, healthcare organizations across the United States require CIC® as a condition of employment, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) cites certification as evidence of infection prevention knowledge. Several states such as New Jersey, Nevada, and Colorado have mandated that infection preventionists who oversee a facilitys HAI surveillance and infection prevention program be certified. In addition, consumer organizations advocate for ongoing competency examinations to demonstrate specialty-specific skills, knowledge, and use of best practices.

APICs competency model outlined in the AJIC white paper illustrates four critical areas of expertise that are needed to expand the IP role and priority domains of professional development:
- Leadership and program management domain
- Performance improvement and implementation science domain
- Infection prevention and control domain
- Technical domain

To meet the rapidly expanding demand for infection prevention expertise, IPs need to diversify their professional competencies. APIC is committed to supporting its members by providing a pathway to gain and improve upon the skills necessary to be successful leaders. The APIC 2012 Annual Conference in San Antonio, June 4-6, (http://ac2012.site.apic.org/) provided a wealth of opportunities to network, share, educate, inspire, and celebrate the contributions of infection preventionists.

Michelle Farber, RN, CIC, is APIC's 2012 president and infection preventionist for Mercy Community Hospital in Coon Rapids, Minn.