Kerry Gerding, MSN-IPC, RN, CIC

Location: Morris, Illinois

Company/Organization: Morris Hospital and Healthcare Centers

Title: Infection Preventionist

First Certified: November 1990

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

I didn’t exactly choose it; it chose me.  Due to a health issue I was not able to perform direct patient care.  At the age of 27, I found myself not sure if I could continue my nursing career.  I was offered a position in Infection Control and accepted it with no idea what the role would mean in my life

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

First, I would say that no day is ever the same and being an infection preventionist (IP) is far from boring or easy.  Many times, the IP is alone in this role and with few available resources.  I would recommend reaching out to your area hospitals and develop a network of similar IP’s.  I did this when I first began.  Our network spanned about 60 miles across the center of Illinois, with outliers 20 miles north and south.  There were 7 hospitals and we became a close-knit group and life-long friends.

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

Being a CIC demonstrates my commitment and knowledge of the fundamentals of infection prevention and control.  Early on I do not think others understood it’s meaning, but now CIC credentials represent qualifications for the position of Infection Preventionist in regulatory standards.  I am very proud of my certification and proud to say I have been certified for thirty-years.

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

I believe the APIC texts are invaluable when studying for this examination.  I also use the certification study guide, which is available on the APIC website.  I read the texts and take notes on things I am not sure of, focusing on what I feel are my weakest areas, and also complete all of the study questions in the study guide.  That is another tool that helps me determine where I need to focus.  Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to your network, as they can be a wealth of information from their own experiences.

5. What advice would you give someone pursuing certification?

I believe you need experience in infection control before sitting for this exam.  When I was first certified, you were required to have two-years of full-time employment as an IP before taking the exam.  I firmly believe this should still be the case.  You learn so much in your daily practice that you could never learn in reading alone.

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

I belong to my local APIC chapter and am on the Board of Directors in that group.  I attend local and national APIC educational offerings.  I also enjoy learning on the web via the APIC website and CDC website, among others.  My state health department is also a wealth of learning information.

7. Are you part of an APIC or IPAC Canada chapter?

If so, would you recommend it to others? I am a member of APIC and would definitely recommend it to others as a means to grow in this profession.

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

Having a CIC credential is definitely a bonus when looking for a job.  It is also a bonus on your resume, and a status symbol, so to speak, giving you a boost up in credibility when needed at your facility.  It is evidence that you understand infection control fundamentals.

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.  

For most of my career, I have always wondered how I can get people to realize the importance of all of the infection control practices that we continue to talk about year after year.  How many times can you talk about hand hygiene?  How many times do you need to remind people to wear their personal protective equipment properly?  During this COVID pandemic, I honestly feel that this problem may have resolved itself.  Everyone is so concerned with having the right equipment to protect themselves.  I hope that this concern lingers long after the pandemic resolves.