Infection prevention and control is a challenging field. There is the long training and certification process. There are the long hours of on-the-job training and specialization. There are the mountains and mountains of paperwork alongside the demanding clinical work. Some might even say it’s a thankless job, with tons of pressure to improve, alongside an ever-changing landscape of pathogens and patient populations. And yet there continues to be a group of passionate individuals who choose to make a difference by becoming infection preventionists. Today we take a moment to say thank you to all those students of infection control, the future professionals in IC/IP.
Over the past decades, there has been tremendous growth in the field of infection control. This trend will continue for the foreseeable future, only accelerated by the COVID pandemic, with an estimated 28% employment growth through 2028. As our population ages, there will be a particular need for long-term healthcare specialists, including infection preventionists.
While compensation is, on average, commensurate with education and experience, geography and facility also play a role. There remains a large disparity between large, urban facility salaries and those found in smaller, suburban facilities. Salaries at long-term care facilities are even lower. This means that these facilities have a harder time attracting the best candidates - but the field as a whole also suffers when potential students decide their specialty and pass over IC/IP for a field with better compensation prospects. With growth trends on the rise and the growing need for reporting and surveillance professionals, we are at risk for an employment crisis in IC/IP.
There are so many reasons to ensure a steady flow of students into the field of IC/IP beyond the need to fill positions. The talented individuals entering the field each year bring a steadily more diverse educational background to their position. IP professionals now come not only from nursing programs, but public health, epidemiology, microbiology, and infectious disease programs. These recent graduates began their studies after reporting and surveillance were national programs, so they are prepared for the role data analysis will play in their careers. Additionally, they bring new ideas, a drive to implement new protocols and technologies, and the energy to help bring a team on board.
So we want to thank all the dedicated students of IC/IP who are studying for their certifications, shadowing their mentors, and reading endless journal articles just so they can help make healthcare safer for all of us. We know that you will do your best work behind the scenes, and that patients who enter your facility and leave without an HAI may not know what you did to ensure that happened. We want you to know that we see you! And we are so grateful that you choose this profession. Thank you.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in November 2019 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.