Nurse Types / Infusion Nurse
An infusion nurse, or IV nurse, specializes in the administration of medications and therapies through intravenous (IV) lines, midline or central lines, or venous access ports.
Infusion nursing is a flexible career that provides the freedom to work in many different settings with diverse populations. An infusion nurse might administer chemotherapy in the hospital or provide specialized nutrition in a patient’s home. They may also train patients and their caregivers how to properly administer medication through venous catheters utilizing various devices including electronic pumps.
Find out more about how to become an infusion nurse, including:
- What is an infusion nurse?
- What do infusion nurses do?
- Where do infusion nurses work?
- What are specific types of infusion nurses?
- How do you become an infusion nurse in 3 steps?
- What are additional requirements of infusion nurses?
- What are the salary and career outlooks for infusion nurses?
What is an infusion nurse?
An infusion nurse is an expert in managing intravenous and central venous catheters and administering medications through them. The job requires a strong understanding of pharmacology, patient assessment, and sterile/aseptic procedural techniques.
Qualities of a successful infusion nurse
An infusion nurse must have a deep understanding of the proper administration of specialized and potentially dangerous medications and therapies. If their position involves training patients and family members, it requires the ability to educate people on complex procedures using easy-to-understand terminology and demonstrations.
You might be a good fit for infusion nursing if:
- You have a broad understanding of different disease processes and conditions
- You have strong assessment and teaching skills
- You understand the appropriate monitoring and management required for a wide range of medications and conditions, as well as the nursing care requirements for every medication you administer
- You can interpret lab results and adjust therapies accordingly in collaboration with the prescribing provider
Infusion nurses work closely with bedside nurses, physicians, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and other members of the healthcare team. For this reason, infusion nurses should also possess excellent communication skills.
What do infusion nurses do?
Infusion nurses administer medications and through intravenous catheters, midline catheters, central venous catheters, and central venous ports.
Infusion nurses do a lot of teaching as part of their work. This usually entails helping patients and their families learn to care for venous catheters/ports, how to administer medications through them if they will be discharged home on intravenous medications, and what adverse signs/symptoms to look for.
Types of medications they may administer include (but are not limited to):
- Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN)
- Fluid and electrolyte infusions
- Cardiac medications
A day in the life of an infusion nurse
A typical day for an infusion nurse depends on the setting. Some work in hospitals, some work in outpatient infusion centers, and others work primarily in home care.
An infusion nurse working in patients’ homes may assess the patient’s line for patency and signs of infection, perform a sterile dressing change, draw lab work, and/or administer prescribed medications.
During the visit, they will also assess the patient for complications and ensure the drug has the intended effect. They may also provide education about how to care for the line, self-administer the medication, and what adverse signs/symptoms to look for that would cause concern.
Nurses working at an infusion center within the hospital or in an outpatient setting administer various types of medications while monitoring the patient for reactions. They may also perform sterile dressing changes and provide education about side effects and/or how to also administer medications at home.
Common conditions treated by infusion nurses
Infusion nursing can be an exciting and rewarding field due to the variety of patients and conditions who need this type of care.
These nurses might treat patients with (but not limited to):
- Different forms of cancer
- Cardiac conditions
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Crohn’s disease
- Rheumatoid disorders like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis
Where do infusion nurses work?
Infusion nurses work in many different settings. Here are some of the places an infusion nurse might work:
- Outpatient clinic or primary care office
- Home health agency
- Specialized infusion unit within the hospital
- Oncology unit
- Medical day spas
- Palliative and hospice care
While some infusion units are open 365 days a year, other workplaces follow a more traditional Monday-Friday schedule, which may be appealing to nurses looking for a more traditional work schedule.
What are specific types of infusion nurses?
Some infusion nurses work as generalists, caring for patients with many different conditions and diseases. Others specialize in a particular field, like oncology or rheumatology.
Closely Related Fields
There are many fields of nursing that require top-notch IV skills and skilled medication management, including:
- Critical care nursing
- Emergency nursing,
- Surgical nursing
- Oncology nursing
- Dialysis nursing
- Rheumatology nursing
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How do you become an infusion nurse in 3 steps?
All infusion nurses start by following the same steps: obtain either your Associate Degree of Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, pass the NCLEX-RN exam, and gain experience in nursing.
Step 1 – Become a registered nurse
To become an infusion nurse, you must first obtain your Associate Degree of Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and pass the NCLEX-RN exam.
Ways to Earn a BSN degree
While it’s possible to become a nurse with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), most employers prefer to hire BSN-prepared nurses. A BSN provides additional training in critical thinking and problem solving that will help you excel as an infusion nurse.
There are several ways to obtain your BSN. Some prospective nurses graduate from traditional four-year degree programs. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field, you may be eligible for an accelerated degree program (ABSN) which allows you to graduate with a BSN in 16-24 months.
Others may be eligible for an RN-to-BSN bridge program. This allows you to work as nurse while earning your degree.
It may also help you negotiate a better salary and more responsibilities once you’ve entered the job market.
Pass the NCLEX-RN exam
Every registered nurse must pass the NCLEX-RN, a national exam that certifies you have a minimum level of skill and knowledge to practice safely.
After you pass the NCLEX-RN, you are eligible to apply for a nursing license in your state and begin applying for jobs.
Step 2 – Accumulate experience
Infusion nurses should have a strong knowledge of peripheral, midline, and central line venous catheters to include potential problems associated with the devices. They should also have a strong understanding of pharmacology and be comfortable with providing patient education. The best way to acquire this experience is to work as a bedside RN for a few years.
Helpful skills and experience
Aspiring infusion nurses should consider continuing education units on topics like:
- Central venous catheter management
- Intravenous medication therapy
- Sterile dressing changes
- Lab value interpretation
- Patient education
It may also be worthwhile to ask an infusion nurse in your hospital if they would be willing to let you shadow them for a shift. This can provide great insight into the nurse’s work and required skills.
Changing specialty to a infusion nurse
Many infusion nurses start their careers as bedside nurses in the hospital where they acquire IV/CVC management and medication administration skills, then switch specialties after they have gained some experience. Bedside nursing roles provide an excellent foundation in patient education and medication management that will help prepare you for infusion nursing.
Step 3 – Obtain certifications
The primary certification for infusion nurses is the Certified Registered Nurse Infusion (CRNI) exam. To be eligible for this exam, you must have an active RN license and at least 1,600 hours of infusion-nursing experience in the last two years.
Depending on the type of work you plan to do, you may also consider the following certifications:
What are additional requirements of infusion nurses?
Infusion nurses are exceptional healthcare providers who provide essential care to patients requiring advanced medical therapies. To succeed in this career, an infusion nurse must be patient, caring, a great educator, and organized.
What are the salary and career outlooks for infusion nurses?
The need for nurses continues to grow. The aging population and number of patients requiring the services of an infusion nurse is steady and many jobs are available. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for all nurses is expected to grow 6% between 2021 and 2031.
The average nurse earns $82,750 annually. Infusion nurses earn on average $86,870 per year, but nurses who are certified with several years of experience can reasonably expect to earn over $96,000.
Nursing salaries vary by state and by city. Our salary estimator can help you estimate how much you could earn.
Infusion nurse salary by state
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Many nurses turn to infusion nursing since this type of work generally involves a more reliable schedule and slower pace compared to shift work in the hospital. While schedule and salary depend on where you work, nurses in this field have some flexibility to choose the setting that works best for them.
Another benefit to this type of nursing is that it allows nurses to work individually with patients. This includes those who go into home health or outpatient infusion clinics where many patients come in for routine therapy for weeks, months, or even years.
For these reasons, infusion nurses are likely to find a great deal of job satisfaction within this field.
Infusion nursing is a rewarding and flexible career. Nurses who wish to advance their careers might consider academics or management positions once they have several years of experience.
Another option is to join organizations like:
The Journal of Infusion Nursing is another good resource.
Do you have additional questions about infusion nursing? Post your questions in our question-and-answer forum and receive advice from real nurses.
Ready to find your first infusion nursing job? Our career resources can help you prepare your resume, practice for interviews, and target the right jobs for your professional goals. Start by creating a profile with Incredible Health to help you find the right opportunity for your career goals.
An infusion nurse specializes in the administration of medications and therapies through peripheral intravenous (IV) catheters and various types of central venous catheters (CVCs) to include PICC lines, midlines, ports, and others.
– Different forms of cancer
– Crohn’s disease
– Rheumatoid disorders like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis
– Nutritional deficiencies
Infusion nurses earn on average $86,870 per year, but nurses who are certified with several years of experience can reasonably expect to earn over $96,000.
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- Blood & Marrow Transplant Certified Nurse (BMTCN). ONCC.org. Accessed June 14, 2022.
- Certified Registered Nurse Infusion (CRNI®). Infusion Nurses Society. Accessed June 14, 2022.
- Infusion Nurse Salary Calculator. Salary.com. Accessed June 24, 2022.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook – Registered Nurses. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Accessed June 12, 2022.
- Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN). ONCC.org. Accessed June 14, 2022.
- Vascular Access Board Certified (VA-BC). Vascular Access Certification Corporation. Accessed June 14, 2022.
- Photo by Dimitri Karastelev