The infection control nurse has a career with a widening field of focus and expanding roles. At one time an infection control nurse in a major hospital was mainly concerned with preventing the spread of diseases within the hospital. Today, this nurse may also be the one who helps design protocols to be used in case of a biological terrorist attack. The infection control nurse must not only deal with the possibility of terrorism but also with antibiotic resistant infections. The job of an infection control nurse is critical for a smoothly functioning hospital.
Infection Control Nurse Job Description & Scope of Practice
The job description of an infection control nurse depends upon the nurse’s employer’s focus. A community health infection control nurse might focus upon public education. A staff infection control nurse might develop procedures to prevent the spread of communicable diseases within a hospital environment. They might examine isolation protocols and suggest improvements or changes in procedures. The infection control nurse must have a strong grasp of microbiology and how pathogens are spread. Some infection control nurses also take on clinical nursing duties but most focus upon the administrative and educational roles required by their position.
How to Become an Infection Control Nurse
The infection control nurse must be well educated and in larger hospitals the infection control nurse will generally have an advanced degree in nursing. The RN must accrue 2000 hours (about 2 years) of work experience as an RN before applying to a Post Graduate Nursing program. Infection control nurses may be in administrative positions and as such should have some administrative schooling such as a Master of Science in nursing offers.
Infection Control Nurse Education Requirements, Certification, and Schooling Programs
Lesser degree programs such as an Associate of Science in Nursing may be acceptable for community outreach or health agencies jobs. More responsible and higher paying jobs as an infection control nurse may require a significant amount more experience and education. Because the infection control nurse is normally very well paid the competition is greater than for entry level nursing positions.
- Obtain a Nursing Degree from an accredited Nursing Program.
- Pass the NCLEX-RN examination to obtain an RN License.
- A Master Degree in Nursing is required but may give the newer nurse a competitive edge for infection control nursing positions.
- Certification as a Registered Infect ion Control Nurse is not required by all hospitals but can help fill out a nurse’s resume when applying for these high paying jobs. Certification is available through the Certification Board of Infection Control Nursing.
- Certified Infection Control Nurses (CIC) are certified through the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology (CBIC). Applicants must currently hold a position that deals with infection prevention and control in order to sit for the examination. No specific amount of experience is necessary, but candidates must pass the Computer Based Test (CBT) to become certified initially and take the Self-Achievement Recertification Examination (SARE) to recertify every five years. Tests are given at designated Applied Measurement Professionals Assessment Centers (AMP). Certification is managed through the Association for Practitioners in Infection Control (APIC). Certification is not mandatory, but the CIC certification holds an esteemed reputation among medical professionals.
Infection Control Nurse Salary and Career Outlook
The infection control nurse career prospects are particularly good. The nursing field is expected to increase the number of available jobs by 587,000 new jobs over the next 8 years. This increase will apply to the infection control nurse position as well as general nursing jobs.
The salary of an infection control nurse depends upon their specific job duties. The average infection control nurse will make from between $57,000 to $70,000 a year.