An infusion nurse provides specialized care and counseling for patients who require intravenous (IV) treatments or catheterization. A professional administers medications and fluids through IV lines, monitors reactions and vital signs, and assists with mobility and hygiene. He or she also assists doctors and surgeons during treatment procedures and educates patients about their conditions. Most infusion nurses work in general hospitals and emergency rooms, though nurses are also employed by assisted living facilities, surgical centers, and home health care companies.
When a physician determines the need for an IV, a nurse first acquires the appropriate equipment and supplies. He or she affixes a pouch containing the appropriate quantity of medication or fluid solution to an IV tube, locates a vein in the patient's arm or leg, and inserts a needle. Once an IV is in place, the nurse checks to ensure fluid drips into the tube at a precise rate. He or she frequently checks on patients to ensure their comfort and to change IV pouches when they are low.
Patients who are admitted into hospitals often require IV medications and fluids to stabilize their body systems. An infusion nurse cares for patients with many different conditions, from acute traumatic injuries to chronic illnesses. Some professionals specialize by working with people with very specific needs, such as blood transfusion or kidney dialysis patients. It is common for an infusion nurse in a busy hospital to perform several dozen procedures in a single shift.
Nurses who work at assisted living complexes and nursing homes are typically not as rushed as hospital nurses. They provide long-term care for elderly and disabled patients, changing IV lines and performing other common nursing duties. An infusion specialist who is employed by a home health agency visits clients' homes to conduct checkups and adjust medications when necessary. He or she also educates caregivers and family members about their loved one's medical needs, and explains how to clean and adjust IV tubes on their own.
A person who wants to become an infusion nurse usually needs to obtain a bachelor's degree, pass a registered nurse exam, and gain experience in an entry-level position. Depending on the region or country in which a person works, he or she may be required to take a specialized infusion nursing class or pass an additional exam to earn registered infusion nurse credentials. In general, there is a steady demand for qualified nurses in many different settings. With experience and continuing education, a dedicated worker may be able to advance to an administrative or clinical nurse supervisor position.