How Can I Become an Infusion Nurse?

Research what it takes to become an infusion nurse. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average salary and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is an Infusion Nurse?

Infusion nurses inject patients with medications, blood, and other fluids. They have to be able to properly identify veins in order to make the process of infusion as pain-free as possible. They monitor patients before, after, and during treatment and make note of their vital signs in order to keep accurate records and make sure the patients is responding well to the infusions. Infusion nurses work with other types of nurses, doctors, and medical staff in the treatment of patients and may also communicate with family members about the state of their loved one. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Associate's degree, bachelor's preferred
Key Responsibilities Inject medication, blood, and other fluids; monitor patients; keep accurate and complete records
Licensure Nursing license required in all states
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 16% (all registered nurses)*
Average Salary (2015) $71,000 (all registered nurses)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does an Infusion Nurse Do?

An infusion nurse's primary role is injecting fluids such as blood and medications into patients' veins directly or via arterial catheters. As an infusion nurse, you're responsible for monitoring patients, maintaining their tubing and recognizing complications and potential drug interactions. You might specialize in treating cancer patients by administering chemotherapy and other treatments in an oncology unit or facility.

In general, nurses often work long or irregular hours, including weekends, evenings and even holidays. Your employer may also require you to be on call. You may spend a lot of time on your feet and do a considerable amount of bending and stretching. All nurses come into contact with disease, but your likelihood of coming into contact with blood-borne diseases like HIV may be higher as an infusion nurse. Because you deal with needles and blood, you must follow strict safety guidelines to protect against infection or contamination.

What Degree Do I Need For This Job?

Before you can work in this specialty, you must first become a registered nurse (RN). To do so, you need to complete an approved education program. Diploma programs and associate degree programs are available that can qualify you to become a RN, but you may enjoy better employment options with a bachelor's degree in nursing. Many postsecondary institutions offer Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs. Some infusion nurses may be advanced practice nurses, a higher-level nursing position that typically requires a master's degree.

Although a nursing degree or diploma program is likely to cover some of the basic skills you need to become an infusion nurse, you may need additional training to prepare for this specialty. Such training may be available on the job or via continuing education programs; for example, some nursing colleges offer courses or workshops in peripheral IV insertion or administration of cancer treatments.

Do I Need a License or Certification?

Regardless of your specialty, you need a license to work as an RN or advanced practice nurse. All 50 states require you to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). To learn about other state-specific licensure requirements, contact the board of nursing in your state. Some states or employers may also require you to complete continuing education credits.

Certification isn't generally required for this field, but some employers may prefer or even require it, because it demonstrates proficiency and commitment to a specialty. If you choose to pursue voluntary certification, the Infusion Nurses Certification Corporation (INCC) offers the Certified Registered Nurse Infusion (CRNI) credential. You must have a current RN license and at least 1,600 hours of infusion therapy experience as an RN to sit for the 3-hour certification exam.

The Infusion Nurses Society (INS) offers resources for infusion nurses, including the Core Curriculum for Infusion Nursing textbook. Designed to help you prepare for the CRNI exam, this book covers the nine core content areas for this specialty. Among these are pediatrics, fluid and electrolyte therapy; transfusion therapy; and infection prevention.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

You may also want to consider a career as a diagnostic medical sonographer or cardiovascular technologist, which requires an associate's degree. These professionals use special imaging equipment and technology to create images of the body and conduct medical tests. These images are then used to help diagnose problems by other members of the medical team. A career as a dental hygienist is also a possibility. Hygienists clean teeth and examine patients for signs of more serious teeth and gum issues. This career also requires an associate's degree.

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