Pallavi Bekal, CIC

Location: Fresno, California, United States 

Company/Organization: Community Medical Centers

Title: Infection Preventionist

First certified: June 2022

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

My background is in the biological sciences and clinical research. Upon seeing the job description for this position, I realized what a great fit I would be since microbiology, infectious diseases and data analysis are all integral parts of being an IP. Therefore, I applied for the job and am so glad I did!

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

My advice would be to have a passion for learning. There is always something new to learn; it never stops. Also, don’t be too hard on yourself about what you don’t know. Learning takes time and eventually you will be confident as an IP, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself early on.

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

Being a CIC gave me the self-confidence to know that I am a competent and knowledgeable IP. Since I became an IP during the COVID Pandemic, I felt like I only knew things related to COVID. Studying for the CIC exam gave me an opportunity to broaden and expand my knowledge to other areas of infection prevention.

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

I used the APIC Study Guide book extensively; I read the recommended textbook chapters and did all of the practice questions and practice exams in the book. I supplemented my studying with Youtube videos on topics I had knowledge gaps in.

5. What advice would you give someone pursuing certification?

Space out your studying and create a study schedule. Do not cram for the test. There is so much material to learn. I also worked full-time and always felt like I never had enough time to study. I decided to take some days off before my exam and this was one of the best decisions I made. I would highly recommend doing this.

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

I subscribe to various health alert emails from my county and state health departments. I also read AJIC journals which are a great resource for IPs.

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 also a member of the Central Valley of California local APIC Chapter. I would definitely recommend joining an APIC Chapter. Having a group of IP’s to connect with and share and exchange information with is invaluable and a great resource to have. 

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

Obtaining my CIC was a personal goal of mine for 2022. Since I am a non-clinical IP, the CIC was a means for me to showcase my value and worth as an IP. 

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 am terrible at rote memorization. Therefore, I would create mnemonics/silly songs to remember everything. For example: AFB times 3 is TB; or Negative N95’s. To this day, these phrases still pop up in my head.