Erika Baldry, CIC

Location: Helena, MT

Company/Organization: Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services

Title: Infection Control and Prevention/Healthcare-Associated Infections Section Supervisor and Epidemiologist

First Certified: October 2019

1. Why did you choose a career in infection prevention and control?

I wouldn’t say that I necessarily chose a career in infection prevention and control, rather, it picked me! When I graduated with my Master’s in Public Health (MPH), I knew I wanted to become an epidemiologist. I was first hired as the Vectorborne/Zoonotic/Healthcare-Associated Infections epidemiologist at the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. Infection control and prevention quickly became a subject area that I was extremely interested in as I felt that it was the perfect balance between epidemiology and applying my skills in disease investigation. I believe that being able to pair my skills as an epidemiologist and knowledge of infection control and prevention mitigation steps allows me to better assist facilities throughout Montana during outbreaks and when responding to specific communicable disease events.  

2. What advice would you give someone who is interested in an infection prevention and control career?

Be patient with yourself as learning this field is complicated and takes time. There is no one textbook that you can pick up to learn everything that you need to know about infection control and prevention. I continue to learn something new every single day. Engaging in support provided by either your local or state health departments as well as local APIC chapters is extremely useful in creating connections to help support your journey in this field. This is a rewarding career path that will result in a very fulfilling career. 

3. What does being a CIC® mean to you?

 Being a CIC gives me the confidence in providing recommendations and guidance when assisting healthcare facilities in my state. Additionally, it validated my knowledge related to the field.

4. What was the best studying method for you when preparing for the initial certification examination?

 Make studying a habit and find a study buddy! When I was studying for the initial certification examination, I found it useful to integrate studying as part of my daily routine. I set aside time each day to study and used a variety of tools including practice exams, the APIC study guide, and flashcards. I had a study buddy (who also passed their CIC!) who held me accountable and helped discuss topics. Additionally, I participated in the study group hosted by my program which allowed me to dedicate specific time to studying as well.

5. What advice would you give someone pursuing certification?

All the time and effort that you put into studying will be worth it when you read that you passed the exam! I believe that becoming a CIC is vital to long-term success as an infection preventionist. 

6. How do you stay up-to-date on infection prevention and control practices?

I never stop learning. Teaching helps me to stay up to date on infection prevention control practices as I continue to research topics relevant to this field. Additionally, I stay up to date on CMS requirements and CDC recommendations. I am an active APIC member in my state and enjoy reading the multiple publications provided with that membership. Additionally, I attend as many trainings as I can and take advantage of the many webinars related to infection prevention control topics. 

7. How has the CIC® helped you grow professionally and in your career?

When I was first preparing to become a CIC, forming relationships with others in my state that were also preparing for the test, helped me create vital relationships that I still lean on today as a professional in this field. The CIC has also provided me the confidence and credentialing necessary to be considered competent in this field.