Infection Control Nursing
An infection control nurse works doing just what it sounds like, helping to control and prevent the spreading of infectious diseases. Because the risk of infectious diseases spreading is particularly high in medical settings, the role of the infection control nurse is an important one. The primary concerns of an infection control nurse are identifying, monitoring, and controlling the outbreaks or spreading of infectious diseases, as well as developing policies and procedures to prevent them. Infection control nurses can also participate in research that identifies and helps implement changes to infection control practices in hospitals or clinics. Often, an infection control nurse plays a key role in educating healthcare providers about ways to prevent the spreading of diseases and how to implement procedure in the case of an emergency. Prevention, surveillance, and control are key components of the infection control nurse specialty. The role of an infection control nurse can be further specialized into sub-categories such as bioterrorism, public safety, or drug-resistant organisms, to give a few examples. Specialization will often require additional coursework, continuing education and certifications.
During nursing school most nursing students will learn about infectious diseases, but these nurses will need some training in microbiology, antibiotic use, and epidemiology as well. A BSN program will most likely cover these topics in greater detail than an associate degree in nursing program will. Interning in a facility where infection control nurses work is a great way to learn more about the infection control nurse duties as well as gain valuable experience to add to a resume. The Association for Professionals in Infection Control can also provide continuing education opportunities for nurses looking to go into this field.
Becoming an Infection Control Nurse
You will need to become a registered nurse (RN) in order to pursue this specialty, which you can do by earning a four-year bachelor’s degree, a two-year associate degree, or a nursing diploma from an accredited hospital nursing program. However, earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree will help make you much more competitive for positions in this field as well as other nursing specialties. A BSN is becoming the standard of education for many employers and is recommended by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing as the minimum educational preparation needed to practice as a registered nurse. Additionally, you could start with an Associate Degree in nursing if that is what fits your time schedule and needs and once you get settled in a nursing position you can go back to school to complete an RN to BSN program. After earning your degree, passing the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) exam is a requirement by all states for licensure to practice as a registered nurse.
Infection Control Nurse Certification
Certification in infection control (CIC) is frequently preferred by hospitals and clinics who employ infection control nurses. As with most nursing specialties, certification is not legally required the way a nursing degree and license are, however voluntary certification is a smart career move as it demonstrates your commitment to the specialty and demonstrates that your education and skills meet national standards. Employers often view Certification in infection control as a minimum to practice in the field. Infection control nurse certification is also a way to let patients know you are specially trained in this area and that you are an authoritative position when discussing options and treatment. Sitting for the certification exam requires that you be a currently practicing and licensed RN working as a nurse for at least two years. To learn more about infection control nurse certification, check out the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology (CBIC).
The career outlook for infection control nurses is excellent. The nursing field in general is continuing to grow at a very rapid pace as the healthcare sector struggles to replace retiring nurses and to meet the needs of the growing aging population. Additionally, infection control nursing in particular will also grow with the growing concerns over potentially new and resistant organisms, the threat of bioterrorism or pandemic flu. If the topics of disease control and public safety are something you are interested in, you may want to consider combining that interest with nursing to become an infection control nurse. There are many entry to nursing programs to choose from that are accepting new applicants now. Get started on finding the right one for you.
Another nursing specialization similar to that of infection control nursing is public health nursing. Public health nursing is more broad with regards to areas of concentration and job duties, however, nurses with similar mind sets work in these fields.
Infection Control Nurse Salary
According to salaryexpert.com, average salaries for these nurses in major cities can range from $69,882 to $76,430.
(Sources: The Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. (CBIC), APIC, Duke University Human Resources Department)