Infection Control Nurse Career

Many people carry a fear of contracting a hospital-borne illness, but there are health care professionals whose job it is to keep these types of infections at bay and make sure that patients avoid contracting infections in healthcare facilities. Infection control nurses have all of the qualifications of standard nurses but possess additional certification that equip them with the ability to prevent these infections and train others to do the same.

Job Description

The primary duty of an infection control nurse is to help healthcare professionals and patients avoid contracting infections in clinics, hospitals and doctorís offices. Part of this responsibility comes in training other healthcare professionals in cleanliness procedures and sanitation practices. A nurse with this specialty is likely to develop new orientation, in-service, and leadership training opportunities to educate their colleagues on best practices and changing standards in the field. By creating, implementing and assessing these procedures, these nurses prevent the spread of infectious diseases in health care settings.

Degree Work

A certified infection control nurse career requires general education, professional experience in the field, and official certification. In order to pursue this career, a nursing diploma, associate of science in nursing (ASN) degree, or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree is required. A bachelorís degree program includes additional training in social sciences, physical sciences, communication, and critical thinking, skills that employers increasingly desire as healthcare and patient care become more complex. A bachelorís degree program typically opens doors for administrative positions within the field.

Testing and Certification

After this initial training, an aspiring nurse must become licensed. Once a nursing student has passed the national council licensure examination (NCLEX) and the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc.ís (CBIC) infection control certificate exam (a proctored, computer-based test that must be renewed every five years) they can become a certified infection control nurse. Generally, licensed nurses from all three types of education programs (diploma, associateís and bachelorís) will qualify for an entry-level nursing position.

Costs Involved

The exact price of this career choice is difficult to break down because it is possible to achieve it with several different nursing degrees and diplomas. At two-year colleges, nursing credits may cost $75 each, whereas private universities might charge $500 for these credits. There are also significant differences in the cost of an associate of science (ASN) and a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree. The average cost of a public four-year degree costs approximately $26,000. Before practicing, a student must take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam, which costs $200. The CBICs infection control certificate exam costs $310.

Scholarships and Grants

Thankfully, there are multiple grants and scholarships available to individuals who would like to pursue a career as an infection control nurse. Like other positions in the healthcare industry, nurses of any sort are of the highest demand. Because of this, there are multiple scholarships available from particular institutions like Johns Hopkins Medical Center that will provide potential nurses with the funding they need in exchange for working within that institution for a predetermined amount of time.

Work Environment

Most nurses work within hospital settings, nursing homes, and doctorís offices. Regardless of specialty, nursing work can be physically grueling. Not only does it require workers to be on their feet for long periods at a time, but long shifts can keep nurses on duty for up to 12 hours at a time. Additionally, overnight shifts and weekend shifts can create disturbances to sleep schedules. A nursing job also requires lot of standing, lifting, stretching, and bending, making workers in this career more vulnerable to injury, particularly back injuries. There are times when an infection control nurse may be asked to do direct patient care, which their nursing background should prepare them for.

Job Opportunities and Salary

Salaries for nursing jobs vary by experience, geographical location and specialty. Infection control nurses in the middle 50% of the income bracket can expect to make between $55,000 - $75,000 annually. National job search aggregators can help applicants seek nursing jobs. When investigating the details of a specific job, candidates should research specific salary information for the advertised position because there can be great variance.

Career Outlook

Along with the vast majority of nursing positions, the career outlook for infection control nurses is positive and nursing careers are expected to grow and continue to be a stable producer of jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as a general profession, nursing careers are expected to increase by more than 20 percent in the next 4 years. Additionally, increased cultural interest and awareness in infectious disease prevention and treatment will continue to drive demand for well-trained professionals in this area.

Nursing in this specialized field requires additional training, but the job outlook is positive. People pursing an infection control nurse career do the important work of educating themselves, their colleagues and their patients about best practices for eliminating and reducing the threat of infections.