Infection Control Nurse
Infectious processes take place when pathogenic microorganisms thrive in an immunity-weakened human body. Disease-causing microorganisms and a poor health condition are the contributing factors that succumb to the occurrence of an infectious process. Numerous lives are at stake when a deadly illness spreads and contaminates others. Hence, in a variety of settings, significant health discipline provided by infection control nurses is essential within health-care settings and in the community.
Infection control nurses are licensed practitioners that play a critical role in preventing and controlling spread of illness. Participation in infection prevention processes as a nursing student is a significant component in understanding the processes involved in infection and how to prevent the dissemination of it. A good background about pathogenic microorganisms in microbiology and other science courses is relevant in the application of nursing care in an infectious environment.
Qualifications of an Infection Control Nurse
- Education. Gaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is the first step to becoming an infection control nurse. A Master’s Degree program may be necessary for some hospitals or in pursuing career advancement.
- License. A valid registration in the state or country of origin must be maintained by the nurse. In US, license is valid in the state where a nurse applied for registration to work. In smaller countries such as the Philippines, passing the Nursing Licensure Examination (NLE) will suffice one’s registration in any place inside the republic. However, maintaining a valid registration is yet required.
- Special Training and Certifications. Preferences are given to nursing personnel trained specifically for infection control purposes. Gaining a certification from the Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology is a favorable background. To obtain the mentioned certification, an active practice of at least two years on the area of specialty is required. Such certification serves as a nurse’s best asset in getting a leadership position in a hospital or health-care facility.
- Continuing education. Infection control nurse must complete continuing education courses regularly to keep current with latest trends in nursing practice and keep their skills up-to-date.
Functions and Responsibilities
Specifically, infection control nurses are trained to help reduce the spread of infectious disease within a hospital facility. Matter-of-factly, hospital environments contain numerous numbers of pathogenic organisms that when contracted by a weakened individual during a hospital stay might cause complications to the current condition. Presence of IC nurses can prevent such occurrences by determining the methods of how the infection disseminated and providing health teaching regarding the implementation of steps to combat contraction of illnesses. With the multitude of roles these professional provides their specific duties might be complicated. Whether directly involved in patient care of just simple providing consultations to nurses, physicians and other members of the health care team the following are the specific roles and responsibilities of an infection control nurse:
- Performs regular hospital department rounds. With this daily routine, health personnel from different departments can voice out complains regarding the infection control practices.
- Keeps a record of nosocomial infection cases from all hospital departments.
- Regularly conducts surveillance to detect the source of infection. Determining the source of infection is critical on devising ways on how to prevent it.
- Obtains a microbiology culture from infected patients and high risk areas to determine how the infection might have been contracted.
- Notifies the Infection Control committee and Director of Nursing for incidences of nosocomial infection preceding case investigation and forwarding of copies of the reports. In cases when an infection quickly spreads within a hospital or health care facility, the IC nurse is responsible for informing the Centers for Disease Control or CDC.
- Ascertain the availability of supplies and place necessary for isolation.
- Implements educational programs to provide instructions to health care team n how to provide a safe environment to patients and employees.
- Provides counseling and guidance to the staff when the need arises regarding the implementation of preventive measures.
- Assists in the organization of regularly scheduled Infection Control Committee meetings.
- Presents monthly statistical data of nosocomial infection cases during Infection Control meetings.
The gamut of earnings an infection control nurse make is between the rates of $70,000 to $100,000. For registered nurses who have strong interest in infection control practices in health care settings and communities, a career as an IC nurse might be an excellent choice. Working well in variety of settings, anyone with a solid knowledge on infection control procedures partnered with good critical thinking skills, patience and determination can advance one’s career to preventing the spread of deadly infection.
Image Courtesy of niagarahealth.on.ca