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Infusion nurses administer medications and insert intravenous (IV) devices in hospitals, clinics, and private practices. These highly skilled, trained professionals play an important role in healthcare facilities, offering patients services and support.
If you want to pursue a nursing specialty, earning an intravenous certification for nurses may be the right option. Read on to learn what an infusion nurse does, how to become an infusion nurse, and what licensure and certification may be necessary to practice.
IV Infusion Nurse Overview
Also called infusion specialist nurses or IV nurses, IV infusion nurses are registered nurses (RNs) who specialize in administering IV therapies. They are adept at pharmacology, interpreting laboratory tests, and using electronic equipment to monitor patients.
Infusion nurses work in any setting where patients receive IV therapy such as hospitals and skilled nursing centers. They can also be found in outpatient clinics, home healthcare agencies, and physicians' offices.
Successful IV nurses demonstrate strong nonclinical nursing skills like communication, empathy, attention to detail, emotional stability, and physical endurance. Job responsibilities include administering medications and fluids, monitoring patients, and inserting and maintaining IVs and peripherally inserted central catheters (PICC).
For more information about a career as an IV nurse, check out our infusion nurse career page.
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Steps to Becoming an IV Infusion Nurse
There are several steps to becoming an infusion nurse. Prospective IV nurses must first become RNs by completing a two- or four-year nursing program, passing the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN) to get state licensure, gaining experience and education as an infusion nurse, and earning an intravenous nursing certification.
It is important to note that nursing licensure guidelines vary by state, and the requirements for working as an infusion nurse may differ among employers and facilities.
Earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN)
Pass the NCLEX to receive RN licensure
Gain experience in infusion therapy
Become a certified infusion nurse (CRNI)
IV Infusion Nurse Education
Infusion nurses must hold an ADN or a BSN. While you may seek RN licensure with either degree, BSN-holders typically have an advantage in the job market. RNs with a four-year degree face better opportunities for career advancement in administrative or clinical roles.
Candidates who are unable to attend a four-year school may earn an ADN and complete their bachelor's degree through an ADN-to-BSN online program.
An ADN is the minimum educational requirement to take the NCLEX-RN and get RN licensure. This degree may best suit students who are unable to complete a four-year program for financial or personal reasons, or who wish to enter the workforce quickly.
College students who want to change their career path can complete some ADN programs in as few as 15 months if they transfer in 32 credit hours.
- Admission Requirements: Admission requirements vary by school. Most require a high school diploma or GED certificate, pre-entrance examination, health assessment, and background check. Some also require drug screening.
- Program Curriculum: Attending an accredited program is essential. Most ADN courses include anatomy and physiology, English composition, psychology, and pharmacology. Sociology, leadership, and management are also taken. ADN students must also complete clinical hours.
- Time to Complete: ADN programs usually last 15-24 months depending on the number of transfer credits a student may possess.
- Skills Learned: Candidates learn to take patients' vital signs, perform full-body assessments, give injections, start an IV, and insert a foley catheter. They get more advanced skills, such as managing ventilators and providing dialysis therapy, on the job.
Four-year BSN degree programs are ideal for students who can commit additional time to their education. BSN-holders often enjoy better pay and improved employment opportunities, and BSN nursing means added responsibilities and leadership. Many hospitals seek nurses with a BSN for specialized roles like IV infusion nurse.
- Admission Requirements: BSN program admission requirements differ among schools. Some expect students to complete their first two years outside the program and the final two years within it. High school students applying for direct admission to the BSN major must usually submit a personal statement, recommendation letters, volunteer and work experience, and have a GPA of at least 3.0.
- Program Curriculum: BSN candidates complete science, math, and English composition classes. Courses in nutrition, public health, statistics, nursing, and leadership are also included. All students must complete clinical hours. The number of hours varies among programs.
- Time to Complete: Students admitted directly from high school graduate in about four years. Some students may receive permission to take an accelerated track. Nurses enrolled in bridge programs like an ADN-to-BSN track may enjoy more flexible schedules.
- Skills Learned: BSN students get more classroom and clinical hours, leaving them better prepared to carry out patient treatment plans for improved patient outcomes. BSN students can gain valuable skills in critical thinking examples, health promotion, leadership, and case management through their program.
IV Infusion Nurse Licensure and Certification
Employers often prefer to hire BSN-holders, citing better patient outcomes and a desire to save money. Many employers also seek certified IV infusion nurses. Certification demonstrates that your knowledge of the field is current and you make specialized training and education a priority.
- Is RN licensure required? Yes, to work as an infusion nurse you must be licensed in the state where you practice. Infusion nurses practice as an RN with specialized knowledge and training.
- How do you get RN licensure? You must graduate from an accredited ADN or BSN program. After passing the NCLEX-RN, you may apply to your state for licensure as an RN.
- How is licensure maintained? The requirements to maintain your license can vary among states. This often includes contact hours of continuing education for nurses. Some states also require minimum hours of practice.
- Is CRNI certification required? Certification is not required to work.
- How do you earn certification? To take the CRNI exam, you must have an active and unrestricted RN license and 1,600 hours of experience in the last two years. You can register for the upcoming test and pay the certification fee on the INS website.
- How is certification maintained? You must recertify to maintain your certification. Nurses must hold an active, unrestricted RN license and complete a minimum of 1,000 hours of experience in the last three years. You can recertify by taking the exam or by completing 40 continuing education units over the past three years.
Working as an IV Infusion Nurse
Many nurses choose to work for two or more years as a bedside nurse before becoming an infusion nurse. This path provides a chance to master the skills IV nurses need to practice.
Nursing specialities are growing as the number of people with chronic diseases continues to expand. These patients require advanced care when hospitalized and are often treated with IV therapies.
IV nurses' salary outlook is similar to that of RNs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the field are projected to grow 9% by 2030 with a median annual salary of $75,330 or $36.22 per hour. PayScale data as of October 2021 identifies the average hourly salary as $34.02, although it is important to remember that PayScale figures come from online salary surveys.
Infusion nurses work in many settings:
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming an IV Infusion Nurse
How long does it take to become an IV infusion nurse?
The amount of time it takes to become an IV infusion nurse depends on whether you start your career as a nurse with an ADN or a BSN. After getting licensed, many work as a bedside nurse to gain the necessary skills before becoming an IV infusion nurse.
What online courses are available in IV infusion therapy?
There are different online classes about IV therapy. Topics include reducing medication errors, caring for a PICC line, and geriatric care. You can also take courses in total parenteral nutrition and the legal aspects of infusion therapy. Other courses cover antibiotics, central lines, immunotherapy, device access, and state-specific skill validation.
What career advancement opportunities are available for IV infusion nurses?
The job outlook for an infusion nurse is positive. Experience can affect your salary potential and may qualify you for temporary roles and travel nursing that offer more flexibility. Some types of nurses can open doors for career advancement in complementary areas like quality assurance and infection control. Infusion nurses may also decide to pursue a master's degree and become nurse practitioners.
How do you become a home IV infusion nurse?
Home IV infusion nurses start their careers in the same way as other infusion nurses. After graduating from an accredited program and earning your state license, you must accumulate 1,600 hours of infusion experience to take the certification examination. Certification demonstrates to home health nurse agencies that you are knowledgeable and have the experience to work independently in someone's home.
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