Nicola Ewen, MPH, PMP, CIC

Location: Kingston, Jamaica 

Company/Organization: Ministry of Health and Wellness

Title: Epidemiologist

First Certified: June 2019

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

I love public health, and Infection Prevention and Control spans from the patient’s home to their hospital bedside. There is not one facet of this continuum where IPC practices cannot improve the health and well-being of people. IPC also allows me to utilize my critical eye and skills in epidemiology, particularly when engaging in audits or infectious disease investigations.

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

My advice to anyone who wants to have a career in IPC is to find a mentor, especially a senior public health nurse or infection control nurse. I was mentored by a nurse that specializes in Vaccine Preventable Disease and Tuberculosis in a tropical setting. These persons have a wealth of experience and it also helps in passing on historical knowledge of how certain outbreaks were contained, re-emerging conditions, and the context of why and how we reached this point in IPC. It is also very interesting to observe these persons in their day-to-day activities.

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

Being a CIC was my goal from the time I started working in public health. I work in Jamaica and I wanted to show persons in my field that there were avenues for recognition of the knowledge and skills we possess but also to encourage further development of IPC professions and practices in my country.  

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

I joined study groups and read as much as I could. I went through the study guide and pass paper questions and followed CBIC on social media #TestingThursdays and #MicroMondays. 

5. What advice would you give someone pursuing certification?

It is a long and rewarding road. There is a lot to learning but building on your experiences often gives a confidence boost. Learn something new everyday, and believe me with the CIC content that will not be difficult. 

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

As a member of APIC I have access to a lot of resources, articles and frequent emails and conversations in the IP Talk Digest.  

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

I am not a part of an APIC Chapter, I however I recently became a member of the APIC Communications Committee. I encourage people, especially the International CICs to become active in the organization in some way. Not only is it an opportunity for continued learning and engagement, but it gives countries greater representation in the field and will ultimately help propel the development and adoption of IPC professions and standards especially in developing nations. 

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

CIC Certification has been a catalyst for professional growth and development. I recently started working on a project with the Ministry of Health and Wellness to improve IPC information, management and surveillance in the country. My certification has also given me the opportunity to assist other IPC professionals in my country to pursue the CIC exam. 

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.

The first time I left my country was to do the CIC exam, which I did in the Dominican Republic. I still remember lining my suitcase with notes and doing practice exams in my hotel room into the early hours of the morning. I am happy that the exam is now more accessible for persons who do not have a testing site at their convenience, but also appreciate that the CIC has always been pushing me out of my comfort zone.