Heather Smith, MHA, MLS(ASCP)CM,CIC

Location: Dixon, IL

Company/Organization: KSB Hospital

Title: Director, Employee Health and Infection Control

First Certified: 2018

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

I chose to pursue infection prevention and control so that I could make a stronger impact on the safety of our patients through my background in laboratory science.  The knowledge I have gained in the lab setting surrounding infection and more specifically Microbiology has served as a great asset.  I can take and apply the clinical science across our organization so that we are a proactive organization to infection risks.

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

I would encourage them to job shadow an IP.  Job shadowing and seeing firsthand the impact infection prevention has on patients is always enlightening and a true sentiment to what the profession is all about.

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

To me, being a CIC means I have the passion to pursue the highest designation in my field of work.  I am committed to our patients and our staff to be the best resource in preventing infection and harm.

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

The best studying method for me was through flashcards and the APIC study courses.  When I sat to take the initial exam, I felt at ease and prepared. 

5.    What advice would you give someone pursuing certification? 
I would always recommend setting an exam date first to help yourself commit.  This allows you to have a timeframe to work in as you prepare how to study and how best to utilize your time. 

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

I am always reading and researching.  I spend dedicated time on the CDC and APIC websites.  I also like to network with our local APIC chapter.  There is so much great information available from reputable sources to many of the questions I come across.  I started in infection prevention and control 8 years ago and seeing how much the resources have evolved is wonderful in that amount of time, it is fascinating to think in another 8 years how much support will be available.

7.    Are you part of an APIC or IPAC Canada chapter? If so, would you recommend it to others? 
Yes, I am, and I highly recommend it.  I met my mentor through our local APIC chapter when I was brand new in the field, and she was so encouraging and helpful.  I owe a lot of my success in infection prevention to her and all she taught me.

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

The CIC helped me grow into the leader I am now by helping me to become an expert in my field.  It gave me confidence and empowerment to reach for higher education and matter of fact I went on after obtaining my CIC to receive my master’s degree.

9.    Are there any CIC® stories that keep you up at night? This can be related to the examination or a specific patient story that stands out.

After riding the storm of the pandemic, the biggest thing that keeps me up at night is the fact of how many IPs that we lost during that time from burnout.  It further makes me want to be able to prepare for future pandemics and build the support and importance of the IP role in all healthcare settings.