Infection Control Nurse Career GuideDiscover the vital role of an Infection Control Nurse (ICN), including key responsibilities, necessary education, and their impact on healthcare safety. Infection Control Nurses are essential in developing and implementing infection prevention strategies, providing guidance during health crises. This role is ideal for those who excel in quick decision-making and innovative problem-solving, offering a rewarding and dynamic career path.
What is an Infection Control Nurse?
What does an Infection Control Nurse do?
Click here to learn more about the key duties of an Infection Control Nurse.
What’s the demand for Infection Control Nurses?
How much does an Infection Control Nurse make?
Remember, the more informed and engaged you are, the more valuable you are in any healthcare situation. Your skill at communicating best practices and potential risks, and your ability to come up with effective plans of action during infection-based emergencies, will make you essential to whatever institution you’re working in.
How do you become an Infection Control Nurse?
Here are the key stages of achieving your career as an ICN.
- Get an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)Depending on if you choose to earn your ADN or BSN, your core academic journey to becoming an Infection Control Nurse can take two to four years. If you decide to pursue your education further by earning your Master's in Public Health (MPH), this will add two to five years, based on the intensity of your program.
- Pass the NCLEX-RN and work as a Registered NurseTo become an ICN, you must have at least one year of experience as a Registered Nurse. That’s before you apply for an MPH program, if that’s the path you choose to take.
- Work as a staff nurse in Infection ControlThis is the time to observe and learn from ICNs to see how to best execute the many demands of the job. Be attentive and engaged, and use the knowledge you gain to inform future decisions.
- Pass your Infection Control Certification Exam from the Certification Board of Infection Control and EpidemiologyPassing this exam shows future employers that you’ve mastered core competencies, and know best practices surrounding Infection control and preventive care. This is a field with rapidly changing information, so it’s important to make it clear that you’re informed on all aspects of modern methods of care.
- You’re ready to work as a ICN!Now you’re about to join the ranks of some of the most innovative and forward thinking individuals within the medical field. With this career in nursing, you’ll be a constant and valued resource to your colleagues, patients, and communities.
Where can an Infection Control Nurse work?
- Hospitals: Hospitals have a high risk of infection transmission, making infection control nurses crucial in implementing and enforcing infection prevention protocols.
- Long-term care facilities: Nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and other long-term care facilities often employ infection control nurses to protect vulnerable populations.
- Outpatient clinics: Infection control nurses in outpatient settings help prevent the spread of infections among patients who visit for medical treatments and procedures.
- Ambulatory surgery centers: These facilities require strict infection control measures to maintain a safe environment for surgical procedures.
- Home healthcare agencies: Infection control nurses in home healthcare ensure that proper hygiene and infection prevention practices are followed when providing care in patients' homes.
- Public health departments: Infection control nurses in public health work on community-level efforts to prevent and control infectious diseases, such as outbreaks and vaccinations.
- Research institutions: Some infection control nurses may work in research to study and develop new strategies for infection prevention and control.
- Occupational health settings: Infection control nurses in occupational health focus on preventing workplace-related infections and ensuring the health and safety of employees.
- Correctional facilities: Infection control nurses in prisons and jails are responsible for preventing the spread of infections within incarcerated populations.
- Schools and educational institutions: Infection control nurses may work in schools to promote health and implement measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases among students and staff.
Quite often, if people are having difficulties or admissions, they will call us for ideas on medical countermeasures or on clinical management.
3 Key Attributes of a Career in Infection Control Nursing
- Research-orientedIt’s your job to be as informed as possible on how an infection might spread, the danger it poses, and what kind of treatments are best for containing and eliminating immediate and future threats.
- StructuredOrganization is essential to ensuring proper sanitary and safety practices. When an infection poses a threat, the best way to protect your patients, colleagues, the public and yourself is to create and follow a strict, structured treatment protocol.
- VariedEach of your patients will have their own unique risks based on their age and health background. It’s your job to take this all into account and communicate with doctors, and decide on the best plan for everyone.
Key Duties of an Infection Control Nurse
The role of an Infection Control Nurse can vary depending on where you’re working, but the overarching responsibility is infection prevention and management. It’s your job to stay informed, be proactive and communicate effectively with your patients and colleagues.
As an ICN, you’ll analyze infection data, facts and trends, and share your findings with other healthcare professionals. This can mean reading academic articles, connecting with colleagues who may have relevant findings, and staying up to date on any announcements via the CDC. Information is your friend! Make time to stay as up to date on new practices and findings as possible, so you can be prepared for anything.
You’ll educate your colleagues and patients on how to control and prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases. In this role, you’ll create and share sanitation plans to be implemented at your healthcare facility, and any other relevant community locations. If an infectious disease poses a threat outside the walls of these facilities, you’ll work with your community leaders to educate the broader public on how to ensure their health and safety.
As one of the most informed professionals on this topic, it’s also your responsibility to teach and reinforce infection control practices to fellow and future ICNs, and other medical professionals. In this capacity, you’ll act as a liaison between practicing medical officials and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This is where clear and effective communication skills are of the utmost importance, as you can profoundly influence how doctors address a potential infectious threat.
As an ICN, you’ll also work with scientists and doctors to study and identify the bacteria of infectious diseases and find new ways to treat or eliminate these illnesses. This research relies heavily on your ability to understand the composition and origins of potentially infectious pathogens, and can be the key to creating new practices that can better protect present and future patients.
As relied-upon problem solvers, Infection Control Nurses are usually among the most impactful innovators. Whether it’s coming up with new handwashing practices or working with scientists to design new protective gear, ICNs are constantly creating new and safer ways to practice medicine and protect their patients.
American Journal of Infection Control
Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
American Society For Microbiology (ASM)
The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC)
- What is Infection Control? | Source: CDC.gov
- What is an Infection Control Nurse? | Source: Nurse.org
- What Does an Infection Control Nurse do? | Sources: Nurse.org, Registered Nursing
- How do you become an Infection Control Nurse? | Sources: APIC.org, Every Nurse
- What’s the demand for Infection Control Nurses? | Sources: BLS.gov, Every Nurse
- How much does an Infection Control Nurse make? | Source: Payscale.com
- Where can an Infection Control Nurse work? | Sources: Nurse.org, Infection Control Today
- What Are the Attributes of an Infection Control Nurse? | Source: Every Nurse
- What Are the Steps to Becoming an Infection Control Nurse? | Sources: APIC.org, Healthcare Admin Degree