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Infection Control Nurse
What Is an Infection Control Nurse?
An infection control nurse is a nurse that specializes in preventing the spread of infectious agents, such as viruses and bacteria. As an infection control nurse, you will have a hand in preventing dangerous outbreaks and epidemics.
In a medical setting, infectious agents are by no means uncommon. This is why all medical professionals take precautions to prevent them from spreading. Some of these precautions include frequent hand washing, using sanitizing sprays, and keeping severely ill patients away from other patients. Even with these precautions in place, it is not impossible for infectious agents to spread and make others ill.
If an infectious agent spread through a hospital, it could make already weak patients even sicker. It could also possibly spread to otherwise healthy individuals in the surrounding community. It is an infection control nurse’s job to try to make sure that this doesn’t happen.
Infection control nurses should demonstrate an excellent attention to detail and effective communication skills. They will often need to perform duties such as teaching others how to prevent and contain outbreaks and epidemics as well as work with government agencies to contain these incidents.
What Do Infection Control Nurses Do?
The primary duty of infection control nurses is to prevent the spread of infectious agents. In order to do this, these nurses will often need to educate other medical professionals and civilians on infection prevention techniques. This may include informing others about how certain infectious agent spread, along with how to protect themselves and others from contamination.
In the event of a possible widespread contamination, an infection control nurse will often need to take steps to contain the infection. To do this, they may need to isolate infected individuals so they do not come in contact with healthy individuals. In some cases, infection control nurses may also be responsible for informing government agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of outbreaks and collaborate with these agencies to bring outbreaks under control.
To determine the origin of a particular pathogen, an infection control nurse might also study the makeup and structure of it. This is particularly helpful in cases which may involve infection from a medical setting or careless medical professional.
Infection control nurses may also study changes in certain strains of infectious organisms. By doing so, they can watch how these organisms change and evolve as they move from one setting to another or one host to another. This can also help scientists and doctors prevent strains of medication-resistant contagions and develop treatments for other infectious diseases.
Where Do Infection Control Nurses Work?
As an infection control nurse, you will often be able to find employment in a number of medical facilities, including hospitals, clinics, and long-term care agencies. Other possible employers include government agencies.
How Do I Become an Infection Control Nurse?
The majority of infection control nurses start by becoming registered nurses by earning their bachelor’s of nursing degrees and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). After you’ve obtained some experience in the nursing field, you can then try to secure a position in infection control.
The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) offers certification for infection control nurses. To sit for the certification exam, you must be currently employed as an infection control nurse with a couple years of experience in this area.
Additional Resources for Infection Control Nurses
- Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology
- Infection Control Today
- American Infection Control Journal
- American Academy of Clinical Toxicology (AACT)
- The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC)
- American Society For Microbiology (ASM)
- The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)