A toxicology nurse is a nurse who treats patients who have ingested poisonous substances or been exposed to toxins that are endangering their health. This can include a variety of cases ranging from exposure to toxic substances, to drug overdoses, to snakebites and spider bites. Toxicology nurses could work with physicians, pharmacists, toxicologists, or poison information specialists. They work in places like poison control centers, as a telephone triage nurse, in agencies or labs where toxicology tests are conducted, or in hospitals or toxicology clinics. It is important that they have some background work experience or training in toxicology in addition to a nursing degree, although many poison control centers train registered nurses. Working in a hospital, toxicology nurses treat patients with detoxification and hemodynamic remedies. While some nursing positions call for extra empathy or patience, this particular specialty will require the ability to remain calm and communicate well in emergency situations, and to quickly evaluate and compose a treatment plan or give advice under duress and in a timely manner. These nurses will have to evaluate not only the substance in question, but the patient’s age, weight, and overall physical condition.
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The first step toward any nursing specialty is to become a licensed registered nurse (RN) be earning a nursing degree from an accredited nursing program and passing the licensing exam (NCLEX). To become an RN, you have a few options. You can earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or associate of science in nursing (ASN), which takes only two to three years. You can also earn a nursing diploma from a hospital program in just two to three years, although these programs are dwindling while the associate programs are growing in popularity. Ideally, you should earn a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN), which will make you much more competitive in the job market. However, earning a diploma or associate degree can be a stepping stone toward later earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Alternatively, if you already have a bachelor’s degree in a different field, you can earn an accelerated bachelor’s degree in nursing from certain nursing schools. A qualified nursing program will include classes as well as clinical lab training in hospitals or clinics. In addition to nursing, you will study subjects like chemistry, psychology, nutrition, anatomy, physiology, and microbiology. When you graduate from an accredited nursing program, you are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN, which is the National Council Licensure Examination. Earning a master’s degree in nursing would enable you to become a nurse educator, nurse practitioner or related advanced practice nurse.
Toxicology nurse certification is also an option for this career. Earning your CSPI certification (certified specialists in poison information) is an option, offered through the American Association of Poison Control Centers. The median annual wage of a registered nurse is $62,450, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This will vary based on your location and experience, but it will climb higher with more specialized training and work experience.
The outlook for this job is very good. Nursing is generally a recession-proof job choice, and it is only projected to grow even more over the next ten years according to recently released job growth data. Choosing a specialty like toxicology nursing will help make you even more competitive for jobs in this and related fields, as nurses in most specialties are in even more demand due to their advanced training and education. Medicine in general is only becoming more specialized, and nursing is following this trend as well. If the subject of toxicology interests you, and the rush of helping individuals in acute situations sounds appealing, consider pursuing toxicology nursing. People who were interested in toxicology nursing also researched the poison information specialist specialty.