Kirsten McNurlin, RN, BSN, CIC

Location: Billings, MT

Company/Organization: Billing Clinic

Title: Infection Prevention & Control Professional

First Certified: November 2019

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

The #1 reason I chose a career in IPC was to work with the IP Director, ID physician, and the other Infection Preventionists at Billings Clinic.  It’s a well-developed and respected program at my organization, and I am honored to be a part of it.  Secondly, the subject matter of Infection Control and Prevention is very interesting.   I am a people person, and I enjoy being to able to interact with every department of the hospital. 

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

Be ready for lifelong learning and something different every day. 

3. What does CIC® mean to you? 

Passing the CIC was a major milestone for me.  I’ve been an RN for 20 years, and the CIC is my first board certification.   Being certified has been a confidence booster for me and makes me want to consider other possibilities for career advancement. 

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

I used many different study tactics.   First, I attended the APIC 2018 Certification Preparatory Course at the APIC Conference in Minneapolis. I joined the Florida Health Orange County study group and attended weekly study webinars organized through my local APIC chapter in Montana.   I met for coffee once a week with other local IPs and we reviewed the APIC 6th Edition Certification Study Guide questions. About two weeks prior to my test date, my colleague and I took the CBIC Online Practice Exam.  Reviewing the CBIC Handbook for logistical information also helped quell some test anxiety for me.  I read the chapters in the APIC Text until my eyes got tired, and then I would switch to YouTube videos and podcasts.   Lots of highlighting, notetaking, and flashcards on my bathroom mirror too. 

5. What advice would you give someone pursuing certification? 

I would advise someone pursuing certification to discuss your goal with family and friends.  Inform them of your test date and your study schedule and ask them for their support.   You may need to decline some invitations because you will be studying.  But those rainchecks will be worth the wait, and subsequent future get togethers will mean so much more because will have something huge to celebrate! 

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

As a new IP, I thrive on the interactions and discussions with my colleagues and other Infection Preventionists through my local APIC Chapter.   I served as the President of APIC MT in 2019 and that has been a wonderful growth opportunity for me.  My director and facility are very supportive of career advancement and offer opportunities to attend local and national conferences.  Independent review of journal articles, websites, and podcasts also keep me up-to-date on the latest hot topics. 

7. Are you a part of an APIC or IPAC Canada chapter?  If so, would you recommend it to others? 

Yes, I am a member of APIC and APIC Montana and I would highly recommend others to join both organizations.  If you are a new or seasoned IP, it is so nice to have the support and sounding board of your colleagues. 

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

Being newly certified, I can say the study process for the CIC has helped me grow professionally in my career.   Reading more about subjects such as construction and sterile processing has made me more comfortable during safety rounds and participating in conversations. 

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.  

I won’t forget using every second of the three-hour window of time for the examination.  Receiving the ‘pass’ results was instant gratification.   I drove home, walked my dog, and was asleep by 8:30pm.   Best night’s sleep ever!