Roles, Responsibilities and Scope of Practice: Describing the ‘State of Play’ for Infection Control Professionals in Australia and New Zealand

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Background: In the past decade the policy and practice context for infection control in Australia and New Zealand has changed, with infection control professionals (ICPs) now involved in the implementation of a large number of national strategies. Little is known about the current ICP workforce and what they do in their day-to-day positions. The aim of this study was to describe the ICP workforce in Australia and New Zealand with a focus on roles, responsibilities, and scope of practice.

Methods: A cross-sectional design using snowball recruitment was employed. ICPs completed an anonymous web-based survey with questions on demographics; qualifications held; level of experience; workplace characteristics; and roles and responsibilities. Chi-squared tests were used to determine if any factors were associated with how often activities were undertaken.

Results: A total of 300 ICPs from all Australian states and territories and New Zealand participated. Most ICPs were female (94%); 53% were aged over 50, and 93% were employed in registered nursing roles. Scope of practice was diverse: all ICPs indicated they undertook a large number and variety of activities as part of their roles. Some activities were undertaken on a less frequent basis by sole practitioners and ICPs in small teams.

Conclusion: This survey provides useful information on the current education, experience levels and scope of practice of ICPs in Australia and New Zealand. Work is now required to establish the best mechanisms to support and potentially streamline scope of practice, so that infection-control practice is optimised.

infection control, hospital, healthcare associated infection, staffing, scope, roles

Hall, L., Halton, K., Macbeth, D., Gardner, A., & Mitchell, B. (2015). Roles, responsibilities and scope of practice: Describing the ‘state of play’ for infection control professionals in Australia and New Zealand. Healthcare Infection, 20(1), 29-35. doi:10.1071/HI14037

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