What is an Infection Control Nurse?

Infection control nurses help healthcare facilities and communities reduce the spread of infections, diseases, and bacteria.

These highly trained registered nurses have a strong science/biology background in disease management.

As a result, their expertise is perfect for identifying, studying, and preventing the spread of diseases, bacteria, and viruses.

An infection control nurse’s knowledge and training keep the public and healthcare systems safe, sanitary, and healthy.

The possibilities for harmful infectious agents to negatively affect neighborhoods, towns, and cities are much greater without the help of these specialized nurses.

What Do Infection Control Nurses Do?

Infection control nurses gather information from studies, laboratory research, and data from infected populations.

The information is analyzed using cutting-edge technology, data collection, and analysis tools.

This data helps educate nurses, healthcare specialists, and the public on health-related disease management topics.

It includes sanitary practices, the importance of protective clothing/equipment, and appropriate patient care standards.

In addition, these experts create programs and infection control plans to improve cleanliness and sanitary practices.

It enables them to prevent further infections or potential outbreaks quickly.

Accordingly, the primary job of infection control nurses is to prevent, minimize and eliminate the spread of infectious diseases.

Infection Control Nurse Duties:

  • Gather data from studies and infected populations
  • Educate communities on infection prevention and control
  • Assist healthcare facilities with infection control practices
  • Help people utilize sanitary gear, chemicals, and equipment
  • Research new technologies to control/eliminate infectious agents
  • Answer community and medical professional questions

Effect on Healthcare Facilities

Healthcare facilities follow infection control nurses’ practices and policies to ensure the best care for employees and patients.

In case of a breakout, infection control nurses alert healthcare centers and the regional center for disease control.

It provides these institutions time to contain the spread and administer antibiotics and infection control medications.

Infection control nurses may operate on a healthcare facility’s premises to evaluate and improve healthcare standards.

It ensures the patient receives the best medical care possible in a clean and sanitary environment.

Organizations hiring infection control nurses desire a background in antibiotics, epidemiology, and microbiology.

In addition, the infection control nurse must have a good understanding of infectious diseases.

They should understand prevention methods and chemical disinfection, and sterilization practices.

Finally, infection control nurses must be comfortable communicating and educating large groups.

They educate healthcare experts on improving healthcare standards using sanitary and safety practices.

As a result, they’re vital in healthcare facilities with vulnerable patients at risk of sickness from infectious agents.

Infection Control and Prevention

The first preventative measure in infection control and prevention is to provide education to healthcare facilities.

Accordingly, it allows them to utilize the best preventive practices to keep viruses from spreading.

Infection control nurses also support healthcare facilities by implementing sanitary practices and preventive measures.

It includes helping staff use hygienic sprays, hand washing, maintaining sterile clothing, and using protective gear.

In addition, they isolate infected individuals and keep severely ill patients away from those who may spread the infection.

Their primary role is to minimize or eliminate the threat of infectious agents.

Effect on Communities

Infection control nurses provide communities with education on preventing the spread of infectious diseases.

They discuss sanitary practices, disease control methods, and isolation strategies for those at risk of infection.

They also answer community questions and study local communities to understand healthcare risks.

As a result, they play an essential role in keeping communities safe and healthy.

In an outbreak, infection control nurses will implement infectious control and preventive strategies.

They may isolate certain areas to minimize the spread of infectious agents.

They may also provide supplies to help limit/reduce the spread and keep infected areas safe.

Necessary Skills

Infection control nurses must be analytical and intuitive due to the danger of infectious agents and their effect on populations.

As a result, critical thinking, educated hypotheses/reasoning, and organizational skills are essential.

They must also have exceptional communication and leadership skills because they routinely educate communities and healthcare facilities.

A strong background in science, biology, and infectious disease is highly beneficial for understanding viruses and bacteria.

It allows them to apprehend how viruses affect populations and how to prevent and control the spread.

Finally, infection control nurses must perform regular research and follow studies.

It ensures they stay updated on the latest infectious agents and preventative practices.

Where Do Infection Control Nurses Work:

Infection control nurses work in various healthcare and education-based settings to educate people in infectious disease control and prevention.

It includes hospitals, healthcare centers, emergency departments, and state and government agencies.

They also work at nursing homes, community health centers, and other public spaces.

Work Locations:

  • Hospitals
  • Emergency departments
  • Community health centers
  • Nursing homes
  • Residential care facilities
  • Government agencies

As previously mentioned, infection control nurses educate the public and medical professionals on ways to minimize the spread of infectious agents.

The Risks of Infectious Diseases

Infectious diseases present many risks to communities, hospitals, and healthcare facilities.

It includes affecting those with comorbidities, spreading illness to vulnerable populations, and impacting the health of entire societies.

An infectious outbreak significantly impacts the lives and well-being of older and vulnerable populations.

It also enables highly contagious viruses to spread to other communities, affecting larger populations if not properly managed.

In healthcare facilities, nursing homes, and emergency departments, the risk of infectious diseases may be even greater.

Ill patients provide possibilities for viruses to infect them, replicate, and spread to other patients.

Those with comorbidities are at the most significant risk of severe illnesses or death.

Besides that, healthcare professionals face consistent exposure to viruses and diseases.

As a result, healthcare workers are highly susceptible to getting ill without proper safety gear and infection control practices.

How To Become An Infection Control Nurse

To become an infection control nurse, an individual must first obtain a nursing degree.

Aspiring students may earn an ADN or BSN degree in nursing to begin their professional careers.

Many healthcare facilities prefer nurses with a BSN for higher-level positions.

Registered nurses can obtain two infection control nurse certifications, depending on their training and education.

They can earn certification by taking the Associate – Infection Prevention and Control Exam (a-IPC).

They can also receive certificates through the Certification in Infection and Prevention Control Exam (CIC).

In either case, the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology distributes these exams.

The a-IPC exam allows registered nurses to become certified and pursue entry-level work in infection control.

However, those who obtain CIC certification for higher-level positions may want to meet specific criteria.

It includes at least two years of full-time experience in an infection control role.

Registered nurses may also complete 3,000 hours of infection prevention work.

That said, CBIC states no time requirement defines a sufficient experience. 

It’s ultimately up to the individual to determine whether they’ve received sufficient knowledge and training.

Advanced Degrees

In some cases, nurses pursue advanced education in infection control to become advanced practice registered nurses.

These advanced degrees include the Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees.

Registered nurses who pursue further education can take leadership and educational careers.

It enables them to have the broadest scope of practice within their profession and earn exceptional incomes.

It also allows them to make high-level decisions that greatly influence healthcare systems to improve communities and healthcare facilities.

Conclusion

Infection control nurses are essential assets within the healthcare system.

Their knowledge and experience are integral to saving the lives of millions of people.

Without their knowledge, identifying and understanding diseases and applying effective preventative measures would be significantly more challenging.

In addition, healthcare facilities and communities’ ability to manage outbreaks and reduce the spread of infected people would suffer due to a lack of professional insight.