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Elevating the IP Competency

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      Background

      Assessing Infection Prevention competency is a challenge as this profession's responsibilities are vast. Developing an annual competency tool and process aligning with the APIC Competency Model and utilizing Evidence-Based Practices (EBP) is crucial to meet the professional development needs of IPs’ with varying experience levels. The goals of this initiative are to standardize the competency process across an academic healthcare system, assess a wide IP skill set and experience level, and improve documentation of competency for regulatory agencies.

      Methods

      A standard competency tool was developed utilizing EBPs to support a system IP team caring for ambulatory, pediatric, adult, and behavioral health patients. This tool outlined APIC IP domains and an in-depth evaluation of selected domains with case studies requiring research, observation, and analysis. Competencies were completed by self-evaluation and manager consultation. A post competency survey was developed to assess experience and opportunities to improve for future years.

      Results

      A standard annual competency tool was initiated with 11 IPs. Survey results included 55% of IPs felt they were pushed outside of their comfort zone, 91% felt it was beneficial to their professional development and 63% responded they gained new knowledge/skills they could apply to practice. The in-depth assessment scored in every competency assessment category from novice to expert. Regulatory surveyors provided high regards for an IP specific competency.

      Conclusions

      The standardized competency tool using EBPs to evaluate competency was successful and well received. This tool elevated leaderships confidence in assessing IP gaps in knowledge and experience to foster individualized and team professional development. This assessment allowed for our expert IPs to showcase their knowledge and foster the development of novice IPs to prepare for certification. The process is a robust method to show evidence of competency for regulatory agencies and will be developed for all department team members based on job description.
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