Tiffany Kuo, CIC

Location: Chicago, IL

Company/Organization: Northwestern Memorial Hostpital (NMH)

Title: Infection Preventionist II

First Certified: December 2021

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

I chose a career in infection prevention and control because I am passionate about establishing protocols and procedures to protect healthcare workers, visitors, staff, and patients. Physicians and nurses care for the patients, and infection preventionists work ensure that the physicians and nurses (and all who enter our facilities) remain healthy. 

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

I would advise someone interested in a career in infection prevention and control to understand where our role starts and ends in the healthcare continuum. Understanding and establishing boundaries is essential to carry out our role effectively because we work with and in several different departments in a hospital. 

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

 Being a CIC® means that I have the foundational knowledge and experience to fulfill my role as an infection preventionist. Being a CIC also implies that I will be learning every day until I retire as an Infection Preventionist. 

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

I took the Infection Prevention Certification Review Course 4.0 through APIC while preparing for the initial certification examination. I also utilized the study guides purchased by my department from previous years. The combination of the APIC course and going through study questions prepared me for the course.

5. What advice would you give someone pursuing certification?

Set an examination date of 2-3 months, make a study schedule, and stick to it. There may be some days when you drift off your study schedule; keep the examination date the same. You'll still pass.

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

I follow various groups on LinkedIn. In addition, I have a solid infection prevention team at NMH, and they regularly disseminate journal articles and information related to the field.

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

I recommend being part of an APIC or IPAC Canada chapter. Before having my daughter, I served on the Chicago APIC Chapter on the Education Committee in the fall and spring of 2021. We had a fantastic team and were able to put on several local conferences. I was also able to present a poster at the spring conference. The regional meeting was a great venue to display my research.

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

Through my CIC®, I learned about outbreak investigation management and how to evaluate and conduct research. As a result, I applied to COVID-19 exposure investigations and a team poster at the 2022 national APIC conference titled "The Often-Overlooked Applicant: The Medical Technologist as a Qualified Candidate for Novice Infection Prevention Positions." Additionally, my CIC® assisted in advancing from an Infection Preventionist I to an Infection Preventionist II at NMH by demonstrating that I have the experience and knowledgebase to be a leader in the field. 

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 part of the High Consequence Infectious Disease team at NMH. NMH is a Special Pathogens Treatment Center, and we are always in preparation mode for receiving a patient under investigation for hemorrhagic fever or a new/emerging infectious disease. In conducting PPE training with the staff, they frequently assume that more PPE is better than what's required. However, that's only sometimes the case. Doffing PPE is a prolonged and meticulous process, and putting on more equipment than recommended can result in self contamination.