After you complete your registered nursing training and get your license as an RN, you can continue your education to specialize in an area such as infusion nursing to increase your pay, create more job opportunities and do the kind of work you most enjoy. While you can land a job as an infusion nurse without additional training, according to the Infusion Nurse Certification Corporation, nurses who do get certified in a specialty earn about $9,200 more a year than those who don’t. The additional training also helps you take on the responsibilities with more confidence.
The primary responsibility of infusion nurses is to inject patients with their medication. You’ll run intravenous lines to administer medicine that must go into patients for an extended period of time. Chemotherapy is one example of an infusion medication. Patients often need lines to take in fluids as well. You need to have a thorough knowledge about the various kinds of medication you'll work with and your training gives you a new perspective on pharmacology. To get intravenous lines started, you have to be a skilled phlebotomist too.
It’s your job to monitor the tubing and flow of medication once you’ve inserted the line and started the drip. Depending on the environment, your role in monitoring may vary. In an infusion center, you may stay with one patient going through a round of infusions and see her through the entire process. In a hospital, you may start the intravenous line and leave it for the next shift to monitor. If you provide infusion treatment in the patient’s home, you’ll be responsible for the entire process from beginning to end.
The infusion nurse usually is responsible for making sure the patient remains comfortable during an infusion procedure. Things like bringing patients a warm blanket, a glass of water or juice and something to read are often done by the infusion nurse as you monitor the procedure and complete the whole process. Since you’re working off a doctor’s prescribed order, you may be the one left to explain to the patient what the infusion is supposed to do, what she can expect while the medicine is being run through her veins and how she may feel once the infusion’s over.
It’s vital that you take every precaution to prevent infection when you do infusions. According to the Infusion Nurse’s Society, infusion nurses are especially vulnerable to passing on infections and shouldn’t be hired based solely on their credentials. You’ll want to show that you have a strong safety record to potential employers. Infection control includes washing your hands, cleaning the site where the needle goes in as well as all the equipment used for the infusion. You'll also wear a mask and sterile gloves while working with patients.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."