Nursing Options: Infection Control

April 23, 2015

Catching up with the midwives on the ward The field of nursing offers plenty of varied career opportunities. While most students are familiar with certain types of nursing, such as working in labor and delivery or in the emergency room, there are many other nursing specialties you can choose from including infection control.

The Role of an Infection Control Nurse

Infection control nurses have varied responsibilities depending on where they work. One of the main responsibilities of infection control nurses is to prevent the spread of infections and treat patients who have resistant or unusual infections. Nurses in infection control may work in hospitals, universities, non-profit agencies and community health programs.  

In some instances, infection control nurses may treat patients who have an infection, which requires additional expertise and training. For example, infection control nurses may care for patients who have infections, which are not responding to various medications. They may also treat patients who have complicated wounds, which require advanced knowledge. Nurses in infection control also coordinate the care of patients who have special isolation requirements.

Patient care is not the only responsibility of infection control nurses. Nurses often develop training programs and policies in order to control infections in hospital settings. For instance, an infection control nurse may educate staff on ways to reduce cross contamination and prevent spreading infections among patients. They may develop protocols for dealing with certain types of infections including hospital-acquired infections.

Nurses working in infection control often provide education on infection prevention to patients and their families. The job may also include conducting research to reduce transmission of infectious disease. In some instances, infection control nurses may travel to locations throughout the world where there are outbreaks of certain infections.

Education and Training for Infection Control Nurses

Similar to other types of nurses, preparation for the field can start as early as high school. Students interested in becoming a nurse should take classes in biology, anatomy and math. There are two options when it comes to earning your registered nursing degree including a two-year associate degree program and a four-year bachelor’s degree. 

After graduating from nursing school, a state licensing exam is the next step. Nurses who are interested in infection control should consider getting a few years of experience providing patient care in a hospital.

Some hospitals prefer to hire an infection control nurse with a bachelor’s of nursing degree. Nurses who want to become a clinical nurse specialist in infection control may require a master’s of nursing degree.

Although a certification in infection control is not mandatory to get a job, it can be helpful. Certification from a professional organization shows you have a certain level of knowledge and proficiency in your specialty area.

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology offer an infection control certification. In order to be eligible, nurses must have worked in some capacity in infection control for at least a year. After meeting employment requirements, nurses must pass an exam.

The outlook for infection control nurses is similar to all other areas of nursing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics opportunities for nurses is expected to grow by about 19 percent through 2022.