How to Become an Infection Control Nurse


    GUIDE
    August 19, 2020
    Nurse wearing PPP with patient wearing oxygen

    Though people tend to think of healthcare practitioners as people who treat and cure disease, Infection Control Nurses work to identify, prevent and control diseases before they can occur or spread. Due to the current situation with COVID-19, Infection Control Nurses are more important than ever before! If you want to make a big impact, this may be the right path for you.

    We’ll explore what an Infection Control Nurse does, how to become one, and more in this helpful guide.

    If you’re ahead of the game and ready to start this journey, your first step is becoming a registered nurse. Check out some featured nursing programs below!

    Part One What is an Infection Control Nurse? 

    Regardless of the healthcare setting, there is always a chance that bacteria or viruses can lead to a lethal outbreak of disease. Infection control nurses are specially trained professionals who understand how infectious agents spread and work both to prevent an outbreak from happening and to address and resolve the issue when it does happen. 

    Infection Control Nurses play a vital role in the wellbeing of both the healthcare setting in which they work and the community at large.

    If you choose a career in infection control, it means going beyond a basic nursing education, but the investment of time and effort will lead to professional respect and rewards, as well as the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are protecting many people from getting sick. 

    Infection Control Nurses are far more likely to be involved in research, education, policy, and project management than in hands-on care. And the interventions that Infection Control Nurses pursue are data-driven and geared towards education and policy. 

    Though all medical professionals are trained in the basic principles of hygiene and disease control, infection control nurses go beyond those simple steps, analyzing and investigating the spread of infectious agents, learning how to isolate and control them, and working to prevent their further impact. The impact of their work is far-reaching and incredibly important!

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    Part Two What Do Infection Control Nurses Do? 

    Rather than being a patient-facing practitioner, Infection Control Nurses are problem solvers who use their skills to conduct and analyze research, and then use what they’ve learned to educate and implement new policies and procedures that provide improved protection. 

    Research 

    A big part of the Infection Control Nurse career is research. There is a wealth of information being collected regarding infections and viruses. Some of this data is collected by other professionals and organizations and provided for analysis, and some are collected by the individual infection control specialist while conducting research. All of it is compiled and analyzed in order to keep the nurse informed and ready to protect their facility and community.  

    Communicate

    Infection Control Nurses will communicate to colleagues within the facility as well as to patients and their families the relevant research they discover. The goal is always to minimize the risk of infectious disease and to understand the appropriate response should a virus or contagious infection impact the community. 

    Educate

    Infection Control Nurses often assume the role of educator and liaison. They may be in direct contact with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or the National Institute of Health and their facility’s medical staff and administration so that they can communicate the latest updates regarding a potential infectious threat and best practices that should be applied in defense or response to it. 

    At all times, Infection Control Nurses are looked to for guidance and innovative ways to improve proactive practices against the spread of disease. 

    Part Three Infection Control Nurse Salary 

    Infection Control Nurses play a pivotal role in the wellbeing of their community and in the safety of the facilities in which they work. Their efforts significantly reduce patient infections and illnesses among staff, leading to reductions in costs of hospitalization and, more importantly, life-years. As a result, they are well compensated, with an average annual salary of $84,582/year or $41/hour according to ZipRecruiter, with a range of $55,500 to $121,500. 

    Benefits

    In addition to their pay, they are also rewarded with benefits packages, which typically include health, dental, vision and life insurance, childcare reimbursement, health savings accounts, tuition reimbursement, paid vacation, personal and sick leave, and more. 

    Salary Factors

    Regional shortages and increased needs for infection control have led to a wide disparity in the amount that an infection control nurse can expect to be paid. So salary will vary greatly by city and state. 

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    Part Four How Do You Become an Infection Control Nurse?

    1. Become a Registered Nurse

      Become a licensed Registered Nurse by earning either a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) and then passing the

      NCLEX-RN exam. Earning a BSN takes a minimum of four years, while an ADN generally takes two years.

    2. Spend 2+ Years Working in Infection Control

      After becoming a Registered Nurse, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) requires that candidates spend a minimum of two years working in the field of infection control before they are able to take and pass the certification exam for becoming an Infection Control Specialist. 

    3. Earn Your CIC Certification 

      Once you have completed these requirements you are eligible to take the CIC Certification Test administered by the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology

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    Part Five What is the Career Outlook for Infection Control Nurses? 

    The nation has long been challenged by a national nursing shortage that shows no sign of going away. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is expected to be a 12% increase in demand for Registered Nurses for the next ten years. 

    The combination of that long-standing need with the increasing number of dangerous and costly infections in medical settings and viral outbreaks including Ebola and COVID-19 has dramatically elevated the importance of Infection Control professionals for facilities of all types. The demand for these specially trained professionals is likely to see a marked increase

    Part Six What are the Continuing Education Requirements for Infection Control Nurses? 

    Once an Infection Control Nurse has passed their Certification in Infection Control (CIC) examination, their certification is valid for a five-year period. They can seek recertification to maintain their designation during the year that their certification is due to expire.

    Recertification can be pursued either by taking and passing an online examination or by earning Infection Prevention Units, or IPUs, through continuing education. 

    Part Seven Where Can I Learn More About the Infection Control Nurse Role? 

    Unlike most other nursing positions, the role of the Infection Control Nurse benefits patients and hospital staff alike. If you choose a career as an Infection Control Nurse, your education and experience will protect the entire community from harm and the potential spread of disease. 

    For more information about what being an Infection Control Nurse entails, visit the website of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

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    Part Eight Infection Control Nurse FAQs

    • What are the basic principles for infection control? 

      • Hand Hygiene
      • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
      • Needlestick and sharps injury protection
      • Cleaning and disinfection
      • Respiratory hygiene (cough etiquette)
      • Waste disposal
      • Safe injection practices 
    • How do I get certified in infection control? 

      • To qualify for certification in infection control, you must be in a position of active responsibility as part of your role and current job description for infection prevention and control. You must have a post-secondary degree from an accredited academic institution. Additionally, you must have at least two years of experience in infection control and prevention that includes:
        • Identification of infectious disease processes
        • Surveillance and epidemiologic investigation
        • Preventing and controlling the transmission of infectious agents 
    • What is infection control and what are your responsibilities as an Infection Control Nurse? 

      • At its most basic, infection control addresses both healthcare settings and the community at large. Professionals that work in infection control help to stop the spread of infection or prevent it from occurring.  
    • How much do Infection Control Nurses get paid? 

      • According to ZipRecruiter, Infection Control Nurses earn an average annual salary of $84,582/year or $41/hour.

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