With healthcare institutions continuing to manage the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a renewed focus on the safety of healthcare patients and staff – especially those on the frontlines of healthcare – is continuing to fill the public discourse. Infection Prevention Nurses, or Infection Control Nurses, are vital in ensuring the health and safety of patients and frontline workers through evidence-based practice, updated health data, and the latest health and safety practices, protocols, and procedures.
What is an Infection Prevention Nurse?
Infection Control Nurses are certified nursing professionals specializing in infection prevention and infection control. Infection Control Nurses work alongside fellow nurses, healthcare administrators, health informaticists, senior leaders, hospital c-suite, and more to provide enhanced safety protocols driven by evidence-based research and the latest health data trends.
What does an Infection Prevention Nurse do?
Infection Prevention Nurses utilize data, research, public health policy, and public health trends to identify, eradicate, and prevent the spread of infectious diseases within healthcare practices. Infection Prevention Nurses use various forms of data, research, and public health policy trends to educate administrative and clinical healthcare workers on how to keep themselves and others safe. While specific job functions may vary, Infection Prevention Nurses focus on various healthcare-focused tasks:
- Identifying and reporting trends and data to clinical and administrative personnel
- Develop educational materials and presentations to educate healthcare professionals and the public on the latest infection prevention techniques and trends.
- Build plans to protect patients from the spread of disease within healthcare facilities.
- Reinforce and redesign infection prevention strategies – including crisis planning, facility containment procedures, and best practices for personal and community safety.
- Stay updated on the latest trends and research in infection prevention to ensure evidence-based practices reflect the most effective health data practices.
Where do Infection Control Nurses work?
Infection Control nurses work throughout the healthcare system – including roles that do not directly interact with patients or healthcare providers. Infection control nurses are most commonly found in hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and hospice care centers. There are other places Infection Control Nurses work. Here are some of the places they are likely to find employment.
- Long-term care centers
- Nursing Homes
- Hospice Care centers
- Specialty-care centers
- Emergency Preparedness Centers
- Local, State, and Federal Public Health Institutions
- In-patient physical and mental health centers
How to Become an Infection Prevention Nurse?
The first step to becoming an Infection Control Nurse is earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing before seeking licensure as a registered nurse through the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). After obtaining licensure, RNs should work a minimum of two years in an infection control environment. After gaining work experience, RNs can either pursue certification through the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) or return to school for a two-year Infection Prevention and Epidemiology graduate program.
- Graduate from high school or pass the General Education Development Test (GED)
- Receive an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing.
- Bachelor’s degrees are recommended. Those with an associate’s degree in nursing can earn their bachelor’s degree through an RN-BSN
- Receive licensure through the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
- Gain at least two years of experience as an RN in an infection control environment.
- Sit for the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) certification exam OR return to school for a graduate degree in Infection Prevention and Epidemiology
What is the career outlook of an Infection Prevention Nurse?
Careers in nursing and infection control are in high demand. Since Infection Prevention Nurses have prior experience working in a clinical setting, their familiarity with pain points and areas of improvement makes them a valuable resource to hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Infection Control Nurses can expect to make between $53,500 to $141,500 depending on education and experience level. On average, Infection Control Nurses can expect a salary of $87,562 per year.
A career as an Infection Control or Infection Prevention Nurse is a great way to build upon an existing career as an RN. This specialization allows nurses to work with data, research, and public policy to drive enhanced decision-making and implement new health safety protocols across the healthcare continuum.
Stand out among the competition with a Master of Science in Infection Prevention and Epidemiology from the University of Providence – designed to prepare students for a career in infection prevention.