Certification has, as its primary purpose, the increased protection of the public by providing an objective measurement of standardized current knowledge recognized and respected within and outside the field of infection prevention and control.
Infection prevention professionals can demonstrate a mastery of this knowledge by taking and passing a comprehensive examination developed by the Certification Board of Infection Control & Epidemiology (CBIC). Infection prevention professionals who become certified are authorized and encouraged to use the internationally recognized initials CIC® after their names and in their titles.
Initial certification is good for five years after which successful completion of recertification exams extend certification at five-year intervals.
Certification represents the commitment of an infection preventionist and an institution to the continued improvement of infection prevention and control functions and their contribution to healthcare and patient safety. The mission of CBIC is to protect the public through the development, administration, and promotion of an accredited certification in infection prevention and control. Safety of the public is essential to CBIC.
As an infection prevention professional, certification reaffirms that through your study and hard work, you have an internationally recognized level of knowledge in the field of infection prevention and control. It also gives you a sense of professional accomplishment.
It also signals to employers and colleagues that you are committed to professional growth in the field of infection prevention/control by keeping your knowledge and skills current to better your organization's IC function and its success.This recognition can be a factor in increasing your professional credibility. Data also show that the Joint Commission recognizes the professionalism of people with the CIC® credential.
The impetus for certification in IC started in 1977 because of the efforts of the New England Chapter of the Association for Practitioners in Infection Control (APIC). The chapter funded the initial project and it quickly caught on nationally.
The APIC Board of Directors formed a committee in 1978 to establish goals and methods and in 1980, the Board approved education standards for certification. Later that year, the APIC Certification Association (APICCA) was formed. The following year, the APIC Certification Committee and APICCA worked together to develop an independent certification board, contract with a professional testing company, conduct the first job analysis of infection control practice, determine eligibility criteria and develop a recertification plan.
In 1982, APICCA changed its name to the Certification Board of Infection Control (CBIC). The organization is now called the Certification Board for Infection Control & Epidemiology (still CBIC) to reflect current practice, which encompasses applied epidemiology.
The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) accredits CBIC’s certification program, which signifies that CBIC has met the highest national voluntary standards for private certification. CBIC periodically conducts job analyses to assure that certification measures current practices and knowledge required for infection prevention and control and applied epidemiology.
APIC encourages all its members to become certified and continue qualifying for the CIC® credential by recertifying at the appropriate times. In reality, certification is a part of APIC's education program as it fosters continuing upgrading of IPs knowledge of infection prevention and control and epidemiology. APIC looks upon its members who earn the CIC® credential as having reached a significant milestone in their IP careers. Certification is an important aspect in an IP's potential to contribute to increased overall patient safety. A goal of 100% certification of qualified members is desired by APIC. IPAC Canada/PCI Canada is a national, multidisciplinary professional association for those engaged in the prevention and control of infections. IPAC Canada/PCI Canada is committed to the wellness and safety of Canadians by promoting best practice in infection prevention and control through education, standards, advocacy and consumer awareness.
There is no specific time requirement that defines “sufficient experience;” however, CBIC emphasizes that this certification examination is geared towards the infection preventionist who has had at least two years of full-time experience in infection prevention and control.
The Candidate Handbook is available for free online here.
The cost of the initial exam (the Computer-Based Test or CBT) is $350. The cost of recertification, whether by the CBT or the SARE (Self-Achievement Recertification Exam), is $325.
The SARE is geared toward the advanced infection prevention and control recertifier (who is, at minimum, a five-year practitioner), so some questions may be more difficult than those on the certification examination, which is geared toward a two-year practitioner. The purpose of the SARE is to demonstrate continued knowledge mastery in the field of infection prevention and control.
You are required to pay for each exam. If you do not pass the exam, you will need to wait 90 days before taking the exam again.
If you decide that you no longer want to take the examination, you may call the CBIC office and ask the staff to cancel your eligibility. CBIC will refund your money minus a $72 administrative processing fee.
New versions of the examination always exactly match the examination specifications to ensure an appropriate distribution related to the practice of infection prevention, control, and epidemiology. An item related to every task (or topic) identified by the practice analysis cannot be included on every examination; rather, items are selected to sample the domain of content. As noted previously, items are unanimously approved prior to pretesting, and they are again unanimously approved by the Test Committee before using the items on a scored portion of the examination.
CBIC doesn’t simply add and subtract questions (items) from an existing examination. CBIC maintains a bank of items that have been approved by the Test Committee and been subjected to pretesting. Using this item bank, Psychometrician and test development staff select draft examination forms with an appropriate distribution related to the practice of infection prevention, control, and epidemiology at a level of difficulty consistent with other examination forms. In addition to exactly matching a specified number of items in each major content area, test developers simultaneously consider several item selection rules. One requirement is that the collection of items on each form provides a consistent average p-value, or proportion correct, based on previously collected data on first time candidates. Matching this target p-value is an important first step in ensuring the comparability of examination forms, which is confirmed through statistical pre-equating of the forms. These procedures foster fairness and equivalency of test results, ensuring that all candidates have an equal opportunity to achieve a score on the examination that represents their level of knowledge, regardless of the particular form of the examination taken. When assembling the examinations, the test company and CBIC follow these procedures carefully, to ensure that the various versions of the examinations are as comparable as possible, both from a qualitative and quantitative perspective.
CBIC highly suggests reviewing the content outline and list of references available in the CBIC Candidate Handbook. CBIC does not endorse any particular method of study or education. You may study from the texts that are used to write the questions for the exam. Also, many APIC Chapters have study groups through which you can prepare in the company of your peers. To see the CBIC webinar on Preparing for the Exam, please click here.
CBIC does not offer study materials other than the practice exam, which can be purchased by visiting our website here. Please note that the CBIC practice exam is not intended to be an accurate reflection of the content of the current CIC® exam, but rather a way for candidates to familiarize themselves with the structure of the exam, the way exam questions are written, and the format and navigation of the CBT examination. APIC offers some study materials, but you will need to contact them directly. APIC can be found at www.apic.org.
Preparation depends on the amount of experience in infection prevention, as well as an individual’s learning style.
The CBIC practice exam is intended to familiarize candidates with the format, structure and navigation of the CBT exam, and is especially helpful for candidates who have never taken a computer-based test. The practice exam is composed of retired CBT exam questions, and therefore is not intended as a comprehensive content review.
Prometric, the testing company that administers the CBT and SARE examinations, offers CBT exams at hundreds of testing sites throughout the United States, Canada and at select international testing sites. A tool that allows candidates to locate the testing center closest to their home can be found on Prometric's site here. The SARE examination is a self-paced administered online, and therefore does not require candidates to travel to a testing facility.
There are no set testing dates (i.e. the exam isn’t given twice per year at specified locations). The CIC® examination is offered by appointment at hundreds of Prometric testing sites continuously throughout the year. After the exam application process has been completed, candidates are sent an email containing instructions on how to schedule their CIC® exam through the Prometric online scheduling portal.
A score report is generated immediately upon completion for the CBT examination, and will be printed off for examinees at the testing site. A pass/fail indicator is generated immediately for the SARE exam.
Once you receive your score report indicating that you have passed the exam, you may begin using the CIC® credential after your name and in your title immediately, but it takes approximately 4-6 weeks to receive your official certificate from the CBIC Executive Office.
It takes approximately 4-6 weeks to process and mail certificates.
For CBT, SARE and merchandise receipts, contact the CBIC Executive Office at 414.918.9796 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To get a replacement certificate printed and mailed to you, please contact the CBIC office at email@example.com.
If you need a new certificate due to damage during delivery or a misspelling, CBIC will be happy to send you a replacement.
Certificants and employers can check a certification status through CBIC’s online directory, found on the website here. Certificants may opt out of a public directory listing by submitting a request to CBIC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CBIC is a separate organization. Therefore, candidates need to inform CBIC of any change of address or contact information in addition to informing all other organizations. To do so, please visit the My Certification tab at www.cbic.org and log in to My Profile. If you need assistance with the login process, please contact email@example.com.
In 2014, 59% of candidates who took the CBT passed the exam. In 2014, 95% of those who took the SARE passed the exam.
When the initial form of an examination is developed following a job analysis, a criterion referenced passing point study is conducted. Such a study ensures that passing the examination depends on the amount of knowledge displayed, and does not depend on the other candidates taking the examination. In the passing point study, content experts develop a definition of an individual who should barely be able to pass the examination, sometimes called a minimally competent practitioner or a borderline expert. Following considerable discussion, training, and practice, the content experts provide a judgment about the difficulty of each item on an examination form for this borderline expert. The aggregation of these judgments provides an estimate of the number of correct answers that would likely be provided by the borderline expert, and therefore, an estimate of the most appropriate passing point for the examination. Since examination forms may vary slightly in difficulty, it may not be appropriate to require exactly the same number of correct answers to pass. This is why the passing score may be different for each version of the examination.
To hear additional information about the examination development process, please listen to our podcast here.