Sometimes referred to as Infection Control Specialists or Nurse Infection Preventionists, Infection Control Nurses specialize in preventing, containing, and treating infectious diseases caused by agents like bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungus. This requires exceedingly advanced skills and a vast knowledge base. Infection control nurses must have an intimate understanding of anatomy and physiology, epidemiology, as well as extensive knowledge regarding the infectious disease process and infection prevention techniques. Even within a sanitary environment that's been sterilized diligently, infectious agents are still easily spread, which can cause already vulnerable patients to become sick and possibly die. Facilities often assign infection control nurses to serve as the coordinator or executive of an Infection and Prevention Control (IPC) Program.
What Are Some Infection Control Nurse Duties?
Identifying infectious disease processes
Gathering, analyzing, and presenting infectious data, facts, and trends to other healthcare professionals and medical staff
Educating and training healthcare staff in protocol to limit and contain infectious pathogens
Decreasing rates of infection within a facility
Conducting research studies on infectious agents and diseases
Determining the origins of infectious disease and pathogen outbreaks
Developing and implementing plans to prevent patients from spreading communicable diseases throughout the hospital and community
Implementing and enforcing infection control practices and guidelines set forth by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Reviewing and assessing occupational and employee health
Working alongside research scientists and doctors in order to develop new methods for treating infectious disease
Where Do Infection Control Nurses Work?
Infection control nurses most commonly find employment in the following settings:
Public health clinics
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Healthcare organizations specializing in infectious agents and disease control
Long-term care facilities
How to Become an Infection Control Nurse
The path toward becoming an infection control nurse is relatively straight forward. A mixture of education, pertinent training, and experience in the field are required for the role. Those interested in this nursing pathway should have a meticulous nature, embrace leadership, be calm under stress, and have a full understanding of how diseases and pathogens spread.
Step 1: Educational Requirements
To become an infection control nurse, you must first graduate from a college or university with either an ADN degree or BSN degree. Many employers will prefer their nurses to have earned their bachelor’s degree in nursing at a minimum. Following graduation, you must pass the NCLEX-RN exam. In order to become eligible to sit for the Infection Control Certification Exam, which is administered by the Certification Board of Infection Control ad Epidemiology, you should have at least a few years of experience as a traditional RN. Upon passing the certification exam, you can then go on to become a fully certified Infection Control Nurse.
Do Infection Control Nurses Need an RN Degree?
As per the International Federation of Infection Control, Infection Control Nurses (ICNs) are typically registered nurses (RNs) who possess the appropriate academic education and clinical training to be employed as a specialist adviser in aspects which are related to infection prevention and control. Most employers will require an RN to hold a BSN degree at minimum.
Step 2: Required Infection Control Nurse Certifications/Credentials
Core credentials/certifications for an Infection Control Nurse:
A course for healthcare professionals who are interested in infection prevention and control has been created by The Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. It's called the ‘Education for Prevention of Infection (EPI)' course, and aims to arm healthcare professionals with the knowledge and skills required for infection prevention and control, the promotion of infection surveillance, and compliance to state and federal regulations.
Infection Control Nurses Jobs, Salary & Employment
With the recent rise of so-called ‘superbugs' (i.e. treatment-resistant infectious agents), infection control nurses are highly valued healthcare team members. With their highly specialized skill set and knowledge base, the demand for infectious control nurses should stay constant for years to come.
Job Description & Information
Essential Skills Needed - Keen monitoring and assessment skills, understanding processes of colonization, infection, and contamination, ability to ensure the efficacy of infectious agent surveillance systems, ability to follow string protocol, strong research skills, strong communication abilities, and the ability to work well with others
Job Outlook - The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics has projected job growth for individuals with an epidemiology master's degree, and those in infection control positions to be at approximately 6% – a rate that's greater than the average growth for most professions
What Is the Average Salary of an Infection Control Nurse?
PayScale has stated that the average Infection Control Nurse salary in the US was at $68,733 as of 2019. Salaries will depend greatly on a wide range of factors like city and state of employment, years of experience, education levels, and the employing organization. The same factors will contribute to the kinds of benefit packages that infection control nurses will receive. Most who are employed full-time will receive medical, dental, vision, and prescription insurance coverage, along with some paid time off each year.
How Much Do Infection Control Nurses Make per Year?
$51,000 – $96,000 annually
How Much Do Infection Control Nurses Make per Hour?