1. Why did you choose a career in infection prevention and control?
After I completed my MPH from Yale University in epidemiology of microbial diseases, I worked in international public health for 15 years on issues including malaria, AIDS, tuberculosis, disaster relief, vaccine program implementation and maternal and child health, to name a few. Most of my work was at private not-for-profits, such as RTI International, Plan International, and John Snow, Inc., but I also spent two years as an Emerging Leaders Fellow at the federal level at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including the Office of Global Health of the Secretary of HHS, and at the NIAID (NIH).
The ability to make a difference in the lives of people en masse—hundreds, thousands and millions of people at a time – is really very powerful. But, despite all that, something was still missing for me. It became clear that a career track was very difficult in that field. I was getting sidetracked into management and less so the scientific and technical aspect of the work, which I loved. After consulting with a former professor, Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Public Health at Baylor University, I decided that working in hospital infection prevention and control and epidemiology would be the most challenging and rewarding next step in my professional career.
2. What advice would you give someone who is interested in an infection prevention and control career?
There has never been a better time than now to enter the field, for a variety of reasons. I advise them to take the time to shadow, intern, or consult in a hospital IPC department, and experience all the aspects of the profession as much as they can. They may also consider academic coursework, such as the graduate certificates in IPC that a few universities now offer, often online.
3. What does being a CIC® mean to you?
Being a CIC® means that I have reached a level of proficiency as an IP professional where I am respected and relied on for my expertise. I take pride in being recognized for the professional practice experience and scientific knowledge base required to be an independent IP professional.
4. How has being a CIC® helped you navigate the current COVID-19 climate?
Being a CIC® ensures I can be trusted to provide the professional leadership, knowledge and expertise to interpret and implement often quickly changing and complicated guidance to protect patients, staff, visitors and by extension the larger community.
5. What was the best studying method for you when preparing for the initial certification examination?
I focused my intentional studying over a month-long period, 3 full days a week, with individual study, for 8 hours a day, and I used the APIC Online Prep Course and the print version of the APIC CIC Exam Prep book.
6. What advice would you give someone pursuing certification?
Be curious and humble while working as an IP, keeping in mind that all your experiences are becoming integrated inside your brain and will help you become certified. Starting 6 months prior to your intended exam date, assess your learning and studying style using any number of freely available tools to do so, and then make a plan, and stick to it, while being flexible. Be diligent, be patient, be confident.
7. How do you stay up-to-date on infection prevention and control practices?
I schedule at least one hour of reading per week in addition to the ad hoc and routine reading and learning I engage in every day at work. I maintain my membership in APIC and attend the fantastic webinars they and various industry partners provide. I stay active in my local APIC chapter and attend national APIC or SHEA (Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America) conferences at least biannually.
8. How has the CIC® helped you grow professionally and in your career?
The CIC® gives me and my colleagues, associates, stakeholders and partners the assurance that I have achieved proficiency and, equally importantly, that I have the skills and the incentive to increase and grow this proficiency.