Infusion Nurse: Education and Career Information
One of the great things about choosing to work in the healthcare industry is that you have no shortage of different positions available to you depending on your long-term goals. There are a practically limitless number of ways that you can help someone in a hospital, nursing home or similar type of facility.
One of the most important – and sadly often overlooked – are infusion nurses. Learning more about what an infusion nurse does, what skills are required and the educational path you need to take to reach this position are all necessary for determining whether it would be a good fit for you.
What does an Infusion Nurse do?
An infusion nurse is a particular type of registered nurse who specializes in giving medicine and other essential fluids to patients via injection. In addition to being able to perform the injections themselves, they’re typically tasked with monitoring fluid tubes, checking on the status of infusions and guaranteeing that patients aren’t taking multiple medications that interact with each other in a negative way.
If you’ve ever been to a hospital and were hooked up to an IV (intravenous therapy) line, the friendly face that was by your side every step of the way was an infusion nurse. In addition to hospital and emergency room environments, infusion nurses are often found in clinics, nursing homes and other medical facilities.
How much does an Infusion Nurse earn?
The total amount of money that you can expect to make as an infusion nurse will vary wildly depending on a number of different factors. Generally speaking, your education level, the type of facility that you’re employed with and even how long you’ve been an infusion nurse will all affect how much money you’ll earn per year.
According to the experts at Salary.com, the median annual salary for an infusion therapy professional who is on staff at a hospital is $83,329 as of June 2017. The range typically falls between $75,000 and $90,000 depending on one or more of the aforementioned criteria.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the starting median hourly income of a registered nurse with a specialty in infusion nursing is about $31.10 per hour. It’s also important to note that according to the BLS, infusion nurses are an in-demand position in the healthcare industry that is only going to get more essential as time goes on. Factors like the aging population in the United States, recent advancements in medical technology and treatment and cost-saving measures required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are expected to lead to a 26% increase in the demand for skilled infusion nurses nationwide by as soon as 2020.
What are the Skills and Other Requirements Necessary to be a Successful Infusion Nurse?
In order to become a successful infusion nurse, there are a number of important skills that you’ll need to possess as you administer mission-critical services to patients each day. Critical thinking skills, for example, are a must – infusion nurses need to be able to detect changes in symptoms and assess a patient’s health in real-time, allowing both themselves and other medical staff to make the safest, most accurate and most informed decisions possible at all times.
Though it goes without saying, another essential quality in an infusion nurse is a steady hand. Administering medicine through infusion often requires a nurse to be able to find someone’s vein and everybody is a little bit different. Making mistakes in a situation like this one often leads to unnecessary pain for the patient – something you absolutely do not want.
An almost unparalleled level of attention-to-detail is also required to be an infusion nurse. Remember that infusion nurses administer medicines that are designed to work with specific treatments. If those medications are administered incorrectly, or if they interact with some other medicine in the wrong way, the results aren’t just dangerous – they’re potentially fatal. The importance of attention-to-detail in the life of an infusion nurse is something that cannot be overstated enough.
There are a number of other essential qualities that one will have to possess to have a successful career in infusion nursing. Patience is a necessity, as you will often be giving potentially life-saving care under a tremendous amount of stress and pressure. Being able to stay calm under pressure yourself is also essential, as medical emergencies and life-or-death situations can and often do crop up without warning.
Being able to communicate directly with patients (many of whom will be scared), families who need answers and doctors who need accurate information is also a mandatory part of the job for anyone looking to get into this particular line of medicine.
Internship Requirements to become an Infusion Nurse
Internship requirements for infusion nurses will typically vary depending on exactly which program and healthcare facility you choose to work with. Consider the requirements for the Infusion Services Fall RN Residency Program at the esteemed Northside Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, for example. In addition to already having at least an associate’s degree, applicants will need their Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation certification for their specific specialty area, must have less than 12 months of full-time experience as a registered nurse and must have less than 12 months of “recent registered professional nurse clinical experience.”
Requirements for other internship programs will be similar, but every organization is a little bit different with regards to what they’re looking for in an applicant and what their long-term goals are for their infusion nursing staff.
Education: What you need to know to be an Infusion Nurse
As one would expect, the education requirements to become an infusion nurse are very precise. They involve one of three distinct education paths: you may choose to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (also commonly referred to as a BSN), an associate’s degree in nursing (commonly referred to as an ADN) or you may choose to get a diploma from an approved nursing program in your area. Because infusion nurses are also registered nurses, you’ll also need to become licensed before you can move on with your career.
Regardless of the nursing education program that you choose to participate in, you will take courses in a variety of important topics like anatomy, microbiology, nutrition, psychology and others. If you choose to obtain your BSN, you can expect the program to take approximately four years to complete. ADN programs (as well as diploma programs from approved nursing programs) typically take between two to three years to finish.
Once you’ve finished obtaining your registered nursing education, you will then take additional courses focused on infusion nursing in particular. After passing your National Council Licensure Examination (usually called the NCLEX for short), you can start working as a registered nurse. After working at least 1,600 hours in an infusion-related field, you will then be given the opportunity to pass your Certified Registered Nurse Infusion Exam, at which point, you will become a Certified Registered Infusion Nurse.
Infusion nursing is not a career path for everyone, but it is impossible to argue that these hardworking men and women are not essential parts of any medical environment. Infusion nurses are the people who look after cancer patients and who take care of people in between chemotherapy cycles. They’re the people in long-term care facilities allowing people to live out their twilight years in peace. They’re the people tasked with performing blood transfusions, IVIG, out-patient infusion services and more.
Without infusion nurses, it’s safe to say that the healthcare industry in the United States would look much different from how it does today.