As the roles of the nation’s infection preventionists (IP) grow in importance, an industry survey conducted by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) found that the IP workforce is aging and wears multiple hats.
The results of the APIC MegaSurvey were released during a session at last week’s 45th annual APIC Conference in Minneapolis. Conducted in 2015, the survey was completed by 4,078 active APIC members, or about 31% of the organization’s membership, said Monika Pogorzelska-Maziarz, PhD, MPH, CIC, FAPIC, assistant professor, Thomas Jefferson University College of Nursing. As of last Thursday, eight papers had been published based on the survey results.
The largest proportion of respondents, 37%, were between the ages of 56 and 65, with the 46-55 age category following closely behind.
Of the respondents, two-thirds work in acute care facilities. Of those IPs, 33% work in ambulatory surgery centers, 23% in long-term care, 20% in long-term acute care, 12% in inpatient behavioral/mental health facilities, 10% in clinic/outpatient facilities, and 3% in home health/hospice.
IPs spend 25% of their time on surveillance and investigation, Pogorzelska-Maziarz said. Other duties include prevention and control of transmission (15%), identification of infection (14%), management/communication (12%), education/researcher (10%), environment (9%), cleaning/sterilization (8%), and employee/occupational health (8%). Resources and support for IPs is lacking, according to the survey results, with 32% of respondents indicating they receive electronic medical records support, 23% receiving secretarial support, and 14% getting data support.
“We cannot have infection control without patient safety being the center of the focus,” said Adebisi Adeyeye, DHA, RN, CIC, FAPIC, infection preventionist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.
IPs have diverse educational backgrounds: 47% are certified in infection prevention and control (IPC), 82% had a nursing background, 62% work at the coordinator/practitioner level, and 57% devoted at least 76% of their time to IPC.
When it comes to compensation, the survey found that the median salary for IPs was $75,000 per year, said Pogorzelska-Maziarz. When broken up by geographic region, compensation was highest for IPs in the Pacific, which makes up the West Coast. This was followed by the New England, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, West South Central, Mountain, East North Central, West North Central, and East South Central regions.
Survey results indicated that IPs who were certified in infection control earned an average of $85,000 per year, $20,000 more per year than their non-certified counterparts. Those with an advanced degree such as a master’s degree or PhD made an average of $90,000 annually, $40,000 more than their counterparts with a bachelor’s degree.
“These guidelines can be used to develop recruitment and retention guidelines,” said Pogorzelska-Maziarz.
The survey found that there were 1.25 IPs staffed per 100 inpatient census. Higher IP staffing was found corresponding to higher inpatient census, Pogorzelska-Maziarz said.
“IP staffing should not be based on ratios,” she added. “It needs to be based on needs assessment.”
This survey was the first of its kind and APIC hopes to redeploy it in the spring or summer of 2019, said Shanina Knighton, PhD, RN, post-doctoral fellow, Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland VA Medical Center.