Lerenza L. Howard, CIC

Location: Chicago, IL

Company/Organization: Advocate Christ Medical Center

Title: Infection Preventionist

First Certified: August 29, 2022

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

I chose a career in infection prevention and control because I wanted to expand my reach in advancing patient care and promoting safe practices. I view myself as a patient advocate therefore I wanted to transition into a role where I assisted with evoking impactful change for the betterment of the patient. As an infection preventionist I collaborate with a plethora of key stakeholders throughout the healthcare organization and evaluate adherence to policies through rounding on patients and throughout the facility. Additionally, I enjoy educating healthcare professionals regarding best practice in infection prevention and control.

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

For individuals that are interested in the field of infection prevention and control I would recommend that you conduct an informational interview with someone that is a current infection preventionist to learn more about this role and what it entails. Network with infection preventionists and IP leaders and inquire if you can shadow within their department to evaluate if this is the career for you.

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

Being a CIC® means that I successfully met APIC’s requirement within the competency model of being a proficient infection preventionist. It also means that I am a subject matter expert within this field and can be a great resource of knowledge for stakeholders within my organization.

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

The best studying method that I utilized was continuously testing myself using the APIC Certification Study Guide and ensuring that I was versed in the rationale for the correct answer. I utilized supplementary videos on YouTube for topics that I did not have much experience in. Additionally, I utilized the Puget Sound and Florida CIC study group video recordings to bolster my understanding on certain topics. This exam is expansive in the information you’re expected to know, so I would recommend the use of mnemonics for certain concepts to make information easier to remember.

5. What advice would you give someone pursuing certification?

To those that are pursuing certification I would say that you should define which study habits works best for you. Create a study plan and schedule time to study while preparing to take the exam. It felt as though time flew between the time in which I scheduled my exam and the date of the exam, therefore give yourself enough time to adequately study. 

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

I am subscribed to a plethora of governing bodies that disseminate emails regarding updates on infection prevention and control practices and with this information I can remain abreast of advancements within my field.

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

 I am a member of the APIC Chicago chapter.

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

The CIC® helped me grow professionally by having the capability to show my peers along with other healthcare professionals that I have completed the rigor required to successfully achieve this accomplishment and to advance my knowledge within this field. I passed the exam less than a month ago, so I am looking forward to experiencing how the CIC® will assist in continuous professional growth and the ways in which the CIC® will advance my career.

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.

Within the last month prior to me taking the CIC® exam, I studied extensively in preparation for my exam. Subsequently, I began to have vivid dreams about the information that I studied, and it felt as though I was testing my knowledge regarding the exam even while sleeping.