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Infection Preventionist Vs. Epidemiologist

infection prevention and epidemiology


There are many critical differences between an infection preventionist and an epidemiologist.

Epidemiologists focus on identifying and mitigating diseases through a broader lens, while infection preventionists concentrate on identifying and mitigating diseases from an industry perspective. While infection preventionists and epidemiologists have similarities in their focuses, skillset, and core competencies – it is essential to understand what differentiates them.

Continue reading to explore the differences between infection preventionists and epidemiologists.


What is an Infection Preventionist?

Infection preventionists work more closely with patients, employees, and community members than epidemiologists. Infection preventionists are trained healthcare professionals who research, identify, and control new or existing diseases impacting the healthcare system. Epidemiologists focus on disease prevention through the lens of public health. Infection preventionists have historically worked within healthcare, with their expertise now being sought in new fields like education, sports, entertainment, and hospitality.


What Does an Infection Preventionists Do?

Infection preventionists play an essential role in the health and safety of patients, employees, customers, and community members. Infection preventionists work with professionals in public health, industry-specific leadership, and researchers using data analysis, evidence-based practice, industry research, communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, risk assessment, surveillance, and quality control and improvement to protect healthcare facilities from disease outbreaks.


Where Does an Infection Preventionist Work?

Infection preventionists work in a variety of industries and modalities. The most common is within healthcare, where infection preventionists collaborate with nurses, administrators, physicians, and leaders to prevent the spread of disease and protect vulnerable patients. Within outside industries, infection preventions work with company boards, business owners, general managers, or individual properties or locations to protect customers, employees, and the community.


How Do You Become an Infection Preventionist?

Becoming an infection preventionists requires a graduate-level degree or higher. Since infection prevention as a field of study is very new, there is no clear path to becoming one. Some programs require students to go through nursing school before enrolling in an infection prevention program or certificate. Some schools do not require a degree in nursing, but a degree in biology, public policy, healthcare administration, or the social sciences before enrollment.


Real-World Examples of Infection Prevention Practices

Infection Preventionists saw a significant increase in employment following the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as hospitals were looking to protect vulnerable patients and employees. Infection preventionists work to protect patients and caregivers by tracking COVID-19 inside hospitals, working with healthcare leaders to impose safety measures (i.e., mask-wearing, testing, and social distancing), and ensuring the protection of vulnerable patients and caregivers.


At the University of Providence, a Master of Science in Infection Prevention and Epidemiology prepares students to be leaders in healthcare and use systems thinking, data, and evidence-based practice to facilitate collaboration to improve patient safety.

A cutting-edge program designed by currently practicing infection preventionists and science content experts, our program teaches core competencies and skills in detecting and preventing infectious diseases within the healthcare and industrial setting.


What Skills Do Students Learn?


Our 22.5-month program prepares students to become change agents in infection prevention. Students learn a variety of infection identification and prevention methods – including research integration, data analytics, evidence-based practices, and collaboration to control infections and keep patients, caregivers, and their families safe. The top skills are.


  • Evaluate basic science, clinical and epidemiologic research in its application to infectious disease within the healthcare setting.
  • Apply the basic principles of newer technologies, both conventional and novel, for identification, detection, and microbial typing and evaluate these methods in the context of an outbreak investigation.
  • Conduct outbreak investigations, develop strategies for risk mitigation, and share the investigation findings within healthcare settings.
  • Using information gathered from an organizational risk assessment, design a surveillance plan and system for a healthcare facility.
  • Evaluate an infection prevention challenge and apply evidence-based research to facilitate and implement solutions.
  • Identification theory and practice
  • Prevention theory and practice.


Prerequisites for Enrollment


  • Receive a Master’s degree by meeting the following criteria.
  • Earned bachelor’s degree
    • UP does not require a specific field of study for enrollment
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0
  • 1-page personal essay
  • Submission of a resume or curriculum vitae
  • Three pre-requisite courses within five years
    • Microbiology (4 credits)
    • Anatomy & Physiology (8 credits)
      • 2 Anatomy & Physiology courses or
      • 1 Anatomy and 1 Physiology course taken separately
    • Introduction to Statistics (3 credits)

*Exceptions to the 5-yr rule are evaluated on a case-by-case basis


Providence St. Joseph Partnership


Our unique partnership with Providence St. Joseph Health not only provides access to incredible job opportunities working for one of the nation’s largest healthcare providers but a chance for caregivers to advance their education without the worry of financial or time impact.

Through our partnership, caregivers and their dependents can receive discounted tuition rates, scholarship opportunities, and up-front reimbursement on associated educational costs as part of caregiver benefits. Hundreds of caregivers have chosen UP for its commitment to service, mission-oriented practice, quality education standards, and program selection.

The University of Providence Master of Science program in Infection Prevention and Epidemiology graduate will be able to lead inter-professional teams using infection prevention and epidemiologic principles and tools to prevent infections and provide education across the care continuum.

Acting as a change agent, the graduate will use systems thinking, data, and evidence-based practice to facilitate collaboration to improve patient safety.


All Information Sourced from – The Bureau of Labor Statistics |APIC | University of Providence