The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) released a template to guide the development of clinical internships in infection prevention and control (IPC).
APIC’s Accelerated Internship Program Guide for Infection Prevention & Control marks the first major deliverable in building an Infection Preventionist (IP) Academic Pathway – an IPC curriculum for colleges and universities, as announced by APIC in 2021.
“Creating a platform to introduce the infection preventionist work environment is an important first step to support new professionals who may want to embark on this career path,” said APIC President Linda Dickey, RN, MPH, CIC, FAPIC. “Between the pandemic which exposed glaring IPC needs, and an aging infection preventionist workforce entering retirement age, there’s a workforce shortage. The job opportunities in the IPC field are immense and poised for continued growth as settings outside of healthcare, like schools and the hospitality industry, request IPC services.”
The internship concept is intended for individuals who have completed undergraduate or graduate studies and would like to enter the field of IPC. Created to provide a framework for healthcare organizations wishing to offer IPC internships within their own institutions, the 10-week Accelerated Internship Program Guide includes weekly topics, resources, and clinical work for a successful IPC internship experience. During their tenure, interns will conduct observations, observe rounds, attend safety huddles, participate in IPC committee meetings, review prevention bundles, and understand healthcare-associated infection data reports. Participants will rotate through different departments including sterile processing, laboratory, the OR, environmental services, and public health.
“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the critical need to bolster IPC staffing,” said Chaz Rhone, co-chair of APIC’s IP Academic Pathway Steering Committee. “We are very excited to introduce the Accelerated Internship Program Guide to healthcare institutions who may be facing IPC staffing shortages because we believe an internship based on these principles will provide a thorough grounding in the basics of IPC and offer a way to orient potential new hires for the institution.”
Infection preventionists work to prevent healthcare-associated infections by isolating sources of infections and developing and implementing evidence-based practices to prevent and contain the spread of dangerous organisms. They practice across myriad healthcare settings including hospitals, outpatient clinics, long-term care, and ambulatory surgery centers.
“IPC is an interdisciplinary field, so we designed the Accelerated Internship Program to expose new professionals to all of the major departments in the clinical setting, as well as various ambulatory settings outside of acute care,” said Rebecca Bartles, co-chair of APIC’s Infection Prevention Academic Pathway Steering Committee. “As the program is rolled out across the country, APIC will start a database to help match people with available internship opportunities to help build the IPC workforce. Meanwhile, our steering committee will continue to build out the IP Academic Pathway through certificates and bachelor’s- and master’s-level degree programs.”
When completed, APIC’s IP Academic Pathway will be the first national effort to link undergraduate and graduate programs to the field of infection prevention and control, ultimately leading to certification in infection prevention and control (CIC).