Kristecia Estem, MPH, CIC

Location: Riverside, CA

Company/Organization: Keck Medicine of USC

Title: Infection Preventionist

First Certified: January 2021

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

The field of infection prevention and control is an exciting and dynamic discipline. Having a background in public health, I am keenly interested in factors that contribute to excess health care costs, morbidity, and mortality. I chose this field because it provides the opportunity to use evidence informed research to guide practice and policy.

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

For those interested in the field of infection prevention and control, I would recommend contacting an infection preventionist or epidemiologist in an acute care institution or local department of health. These professionals will be able to share their experiences and provide more information regarding the different career pathways.

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

For me, being a CIC has given me the confidence and knowledge to be able to make evidence informed decisions, collaborate with key stakeholders in the field, and proficiency regarding key infection  prevention practices.

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

I used a multi-stepped to approach to study for the CIC. 1) I read key chapters for better understanding. 2) I watched YouTube videos which discussed several chapters and concepts. 3) I used the CIC study guide and took every test, some several times.

5. What advice would you give someone pursuing certification?

My advice for those  pursuing certification would be to give yourself ample time to study and prepare. I studied over a 6-week period for about 15 hours a week.

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

To stay up to date, I read peer reviewed journal articles and go to credible sites such as APIC or the CDC. I have also been a part of a IP journal club with other infection preventionist.

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

Currently, I’m a member of the Greater New York APIC Chapter 13 (recently moved to the west coast). I would recommend joining a local chapter. I learned so much from my colleagues and they also supported CIC preparation by creating a study group at the end of each meeting for those interested. I also received a scholarship from my chapter to pay for resources to prepare or pay for the CIC exam.

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

Having a CIC has given me greater confidence and a solid foundation. Thus, my hospital partners trust my guidance and rely on my expertise.

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.

No stories keep me up at night. lYou must have a work/life balance to show up for self, loved ones, and for your patients. I will say, working in this field, you will meet some amazing people receiving care at your institution. I like to read their histories and speak with the patient when doing device rounds. This approach helps me to make human connection and not just review medical record numbers and pathogens.