Nurse Types / Infusion Nurse
An infusion 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 support and train other nurses in best practices regarding the insertion and management of specialized lines.
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 and administering medications through intravenous lines, midline and centralized lines, and venous access ports. The job requires a strong understanding of pharmacology, laboratory tests, and patient monitoring through vital signs and telemetry.
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.
Infusion nursing is an excellent fit for nurses with a steady hand and a sharp eye. It also requires a great deal of patience, especially for those who might be a “hard stick.”
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 skills, including vital signs and telemetry
- 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, nurse practitioners, lab staff, and other members of the healthcare team. For this reason, infusion nurses should also possess excellent communication skills.
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What do infusion nurses do?
Infusion nurses administer medications and therapies through intravenous lines, midline and central lines, and venous access ports. They may also be responsible for starting intravenous lines using specialized equipment like a doppler.
Infusion nurses do a lot of teaching as part of their work. This might entail supporting new nurses about best practices for IV-line initiation. They can also include helping patients and their families learn to care for advanced lines like peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) lines or central venous ports.
Types of medications they may administer include:
- Blood and blood products
- Total parental nutrition (TPN)
- Fluid and electrolyte infusions
A day in the life of an infusion nurse
A typical day for an infusion nurse depends on the setting. Some infusion nurses work in hospitals, others work in off-site infusion centers or outpatient clinics, and others work primarily in home care.
An infusion nurse working in patients’ homes might see 3-5 patients daily. During a patient visit, the infusion nurse may assess the patient’s line for patency and signs of infection, perform a sterile dressing change, draw lab work, 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 as well as signs of infection.
Nurses working at an infusion center within the hospital may see between 5-8 patients daily. Patients in this setting might receive:
- Hydration or electrolyte therapy
- Dressing changes
- Port flushes
Some nurses work as part of a resource nursing team and respond to calls for assistance as needed. They might help insert a PICC line in the morning, teach a new grad nurse how to use the doppler to insert an intravenous line before lunch, and speak with a patient about central line management in the afternoon.
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.
Infusion nurses might treat patients with:
- Different forms of cancer
- Crohn’s disease
- Hyperemesis gravidarum
- Rheumatoid disorders like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis
- Nutritional deficiencies
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
- Long-term care facility
- Medical day spas
- Skill nursing home
- As part of a resource team within a hospital
- 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 flexible 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.
Some infusion nurses work with all kinds of lines and access points. Others specialize in a type of line, like PICC-line nurses.
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
How do you become an infusion nurse in 3 steps?
All infusion nurses start by following the same steps: obtain your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), pass the NCLEX exam, and gain experience in nursing.
Step 1 – Become a registered nurse
To become an infusion nurse, you must first obtain your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and pass the NCLEX exam.
Earn a BSN degree
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.
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.
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, a national exam that certifies you have a minimum level of skill and knowledge to practice safely.
There are two versions of the NCLEX for both practical and registered nurses. Learn which one is right for you. After you pass the NCLEX, 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 grasp of peripheral, midline, and central line insertion. They should also be knowledgeable in management, pharmacology, and patient education. The best way to acquire this experience is to work at the bedside for a few years.
Helpful skills and experience
Aspiring infusion nurses should consider continuing education units on topics like:
- Venous access port management
- PICC line insertion and management
- Intravenous therapy and pharmacology
- Sterile dressing changes
- Lab value interpretation
- ECG and telemetry monitoring
- Administration of blood products
It may also be worthwhile to ask the resource nurse or infusion nurse in your hospital if they would be willing to let you shadow them for a shift. This can provide great insight into an infusion nurse’s work and required skills.
Changing specialty to a infusion nurse
Many infusion nurses start their careers as med-surg nurses in the hospital where they acquire IV management and medication administration skills.
Other nurses switch specialties from emergency nursing, home health, or surgical nursing. These types of positions 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.
Another certification option is Vascular Access Board Certified (VA-BC), which requires one year of experience and an active license.
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 average nurse earns $82,750 annually, and the nursing workforce is projected to grow by 9% between 2020 and 2030. 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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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 a great deal of 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.
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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