Infusion nursing is a specialty where nurses work exclusively with intravenous therapy and vascular access. Although it may appear a very restrictive area, there is much more to it than just infusing medications. This article gives a general description of this type of nursing along with the responsibilities and duties involved.Work Environment
In the hospital setting, infusion nurses may be part of an IV team that places IVs for the floor staff or they may only assist with difficult access. They can also be a part of a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheters) and midline access team. Hospital infusion nurses can also train new graduate nurses in intravenous therapy.
Outpatient clinics employ infusion nurses where patients may come in for intermittent infusion of medications such as antibiotics, cardiac medications, blood products, or chemotherapy. These nurses may need to be proficient in telemetry monitoring depending on the type of medication being infused.
The focus on reducing health care expenditures has created opportunities for infusion nurses to practice in the home. Some home health companies incorporate infusion nursing as part of their organization. But many companies focus exclusively on home infusion. Nurses infuse similar medications at home that they do in outpatient centers.
Infusion nurses are exposed more frequently to potential blood borne pathogens than many other nurse specialty areas. Many patients also have drug resistant infections that require frequent infusions in an outpatient setting. Infusion nurses must be very cognizant of infection control precautions.
Opportunities or Projected Vacancy Rates
The Nurses Infusion Society predicts positive growth, especially with the increasing number of medications and biologic agents that require IV administration. Opportunities are growing for infusions to be administered in the home setting.
Skills / Qualities
Most infusion nurse positions require some basic nursing experience, and may care for patients across the lifespan. Registered nurses are primarily infusion specialists.They must be highly skilled at performing venipuncture. Certain jobs may require extensive experience in midline and PICC catheter placement. Knowledge of different IV medications, fluids and blood products is required. Infusion nurses must be competent in working with a variety of different vascular access devices associated with infusions.
Duties / Responsibilities
The infusion nurse needs to do an assessment of the patient before, during and after the start of the therapy. Ensuring the supplies are available as well as the medication to be infused is a responsibility of the nurse. Infusion nurses may also be responsible for drawing labs from central lines and monitoring these results. Open lines of communication with the patient, physician, radiology and pharmacy is important as well. Another important aspect of infusion nursing is patient and staff education. Patients need education on the medication, side effects, and what to observe for after the treatment is complete. Infusion nurses are responsible for orientation of not only new infusion nurses but training of new graduates on IV therapy and insertion.
Salaries can widely vary from different regions. Most infusion nurses are paid hourly. Discover Nursing reports that the average salary of an IV therapy nurse between $44,000 and $57,000 a year for 2013.
Infusion Nurses Society offers information regarding policies and procedures, conferences and general info.
Infusion Nursing from Discover Nursing
The Association for Vascular Access deals with types of vascular accesses, which type to use on individual patients and quite a bit of general info.Last edit by Joe V on Dec 1, '13