An infusion therapy nurse has specific expertise to insert and maintain intravenous lines (IVs) and central lines that deliver fluids or medications into blood vessels. He may be involved in direct patient care, consultation to other nurses and physicians, data collection, interpretation, and analysis, education or research in infusion therapy. He needs a knowledge base, skill set and depth of experience that reflects the patient population being served, the type of care provided in the organization and the types of infusions delivered in his setting.
Gain clinical experience in your desired setting. Because an infusion therapy nurse operates in a very independent, autonomous role, it’s important for her to have a solid base of clinical knowledge and skills, critical thinking skills, and organizational abilities. A nurse can gain relevant clinical experience in a wide variety of settings, including hospitals and other acute care facilities, long-term care facilities, home health agencies and ambulatory care centers.
Obtain a solid education in infusion therapy. Most nursing programs in the U.S. provide basic theory and practice in infusion therapy nursing. There are numerous courses related to nine core content areas of infusion therapy nursing available through colleges, universities and professional education companies. The Infusion Nurses Society provides a wealth of educational programs through annual conferences and continuing education programs.
Select an area of expertise. An infusion therapy nurse may choose to specialize in a particular age group, such as children. He may decide on a particular setting, such as outpatient cancer care. Or he may opt to work in a setting where he is paged to insert IVs in situations where other nurses haven’t succeeded.
Pursue certification in the specialty. Certification in infusion therapy nursing is optional but highly desirable. The Infusion Nurses Certification Corporation (INCC) offers certification through a standardized examination for infusion therapy nurses who have actively practiced their specialty for two years or more. A nurse with this certification uses the credential CRNI.
An infusion nurse typically provides both formal and informal education, as well as hands-on training, for nurses and physicians. It's a good idea to complete courses on adult learning theory, curriculum development and instructional media to prepare for an infusion therapy nurse role.
Because infusion therapy nurses are heavily involved in data gathering and analysis, expertise in statistics and scientific research is highly desirable.