INDUSTRY
September 17, 2020

4 Steps to Becoming an Infusion Nurse

4 Steps to Becoming an Infusion Nurse

Infusion nurses are Registered Nurses that specialize in the administration of intravenous medication or therapies and the insertion of intravenous devices.

We interviewed Michelle Berreth, an educator for the Infusion Nurses Society (INS) in Norwood, Mass to learn more about this nursing profession. She identifies infusion nurses as essential to the practice of nursing. 

In this guide, we'll explore what an infusion nurse is, what they do, and what you should know about the career if you're considering exploring it. 

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What is an Infusion Nurse?

“An infusion nurse is a resource, advocate, mentor, and collaborator,” Berreth says.

Infusion nurses ensure that patients receiving intravenous (IV) therapy receive care that is appropriate for the therapy ordered, from choosing an appropriate infusion device to the management of that device as well as monitoring and evaluating the patient’s response to the IV therapy.

According to Berreth, infusion therapy can involve anything from a football player playing too hard in the hot summer and needing IV fluids, or someone with a bowel problem who cannot digest food so requires nutrition through an IV.

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What do Infusion Nurses Do?

Infusion Nurses have a very interesting job because their responsibilities are extremely diverse and different from typical bedside nurses.

Job responsibilities include: 

  • Performing blood transfusions, chemotherapy infusions, antibiotic infusions, steroid infusions, electrolyte infusions, and vitamin infusions
  • Administering medications and fluid therapy, monitor patients IV and medications and develop care plans
  • Inserting and maintaining Peripherally Inserted Central Catheters (PICC)
  • Teaching intravenous access and PICC insertion
  • Inserting intravenous access
  • Dressing changes on PICCs, midlines, and central lines
  • Monitoring a patient’s response to treatment
  • Assessing line sites and patency
  • Keeping infection control and prevention as a priority
  • Reviewing pertinent lab values and drug information 
  • Collaborating with other healthcare professions
  • Educating patients, families, and caregivers
  • Performing patient care in a timely and efficient manner
  • Performing patient assessments
  • Coordinating the discontinuation of IV services with patients

How to Become an Infusion Nurse

To become an Infusion Nurse, you’ll need to complete the following steps:

Step 1: Attend Nursing School

You’ll need to earn either an ADN or a BSN from an accredited nursing program in order to take the first steps to become a registered nurse. ADN-prepared nurses may want to take the additional step of completing their BSN degree 

Step 2: Pass the NCLEX-RN

Become a Registered Nurse by passing the NCLEX examination.

Step 3: Gain Experience at the Bedside

Prior to becoming an infusion nurse, individuals should have a few years of bedside experience. Obtaining bedside clinical experience is essential as the skills needed to start IVs and administer different types of infusion therapy is learned in this setting.

Infusion nurses can have experience in a variety of fields including pediatrics, oncology, emergency room, ICU, and surgical units.

Strong IV skills are essential to the success of becoming an infusion nurse. Any bedside position that allows for mastery of these skills will help a nurse transition into the role of an infusion nurse. 

Step 4: Earn Your Certification

The Infusion Nurses Society offers the Certified Registered Nurse Infusion (CRNI) certification.

CRNI Certification Requirements

  • A current, active, unrestricted registered nurse (RN) license in the United States.
  • A minimum of 1,600 hours of experience in infusion therapy as an RN within the past two years. 1,600 hours of direct bedside care are not required. Nursing experience may be in the areas of nursing education, administration, research, or clinical practice within the infusion specialty.

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Infusion Nurse Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for a registered nurse in 2019 is $73,300 per year or $35.24 per hour, but conditions in your area may vary.

Unfortunately, the BLS does not identify the salary of nursing specialties such as holistic nursing. According to Salary.com, the average annual salary for an infusion nurse is $90,339. 

Ziprecruiter.com reports the top five highest paying cities for infusion nurses as:

  • San Francisco, California - $91,583
  • San Jose, California -  $88,347
  • New York City, New York - $85,809
  • Seattle, Washington - $84,928
  • Boston, Massachusetts - $84,511

Where can Infusion Nurses Work?

Infusion Nurses have the ability to work in a variety of locations. Because of the flexibility of their position they can work in the hospital setting, outpatient setting, or other less traditional locations.

Infusions nurses can work in the following areas:

  • Medical Day Spa
  • Skilled nursing home
  • Long term care facilities
  • Outpatient pharmacies
  • Private Practice
  • Governmental clinics and hospitals
  • International medical relief organizations
  • Home health
  • Infusion Centers
  • Outpatient surgical centers
  • Oncology facilities
  • Patient’s home
  • Ambulatory infusion centers

In the hospital setting, infusion nurses will generally work on a Vascular Access Team or a resource nurse on a unit. 

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What is the Job Outlook for Infusion Nurses?

According to the BLS, in 2019, there were 3,096,700 Registered Nurses in the United States. By 2029, there will be a need for additional 221,900 nurses, which is an expected growth of 7%. With the aging population, this number is expected to be even higher.

More and more infusion therapy is occurring outside of the hospital setting due to the risk of infection and hospital-related costs.

According to the National Home Infusion Association, home infusion is a safe and effective alternative to inpatient infusion treatment for some patients. It also allows patients to resume normal activities quicker and home infusion is more convenient. This results in a VERY high demand for infusion nurses. 

What are the Continuing Education Requirements for an Infusion Nurse?

Generally, in order for an individual to renew their RN license, they will need to fill out an application, complete a specific number of CEU hours, and pay a nominal fee. Each state has specific requirements and it is important to check with the board of nursing prior to applying for license renewal. If the RN license is part of a compact nursing license, the CEU requirement will be for the state of permanent residence. Furthermore, some states require CEUs related to child abuse, narcotics, and/or pain management. 

The Certified Registered Infusion Nurse (CRNI)  does require continuing education in order to maintain certification. Forty hours of relevant CEUs every three years are required to maintain certification. 

A detailed look at Continuing Nurse Education hours can be found here.

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Resources for Infusion Nurses

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