An infection control practitioner is responsible for disease prevention in hospitals and healthcare facilities. Often a registered nurse, infection control practitioners must have strong research and investigative skills, and they should also be well-versed in areas of public health.
An infection control practitioner is usually a registered nurse (RN) who specializes in the prevention and control of infectious disease outbreaks in a hospital setting. This position requires the knowledge of epidemiology and application of public health practices in an acute care hospital environment, with the goal of implementing effective and efficient procedures and policies to combat disease transmission among hospital patients and staff.
|Required Education||Bachelor's or master's degree|
|Other Requirements||RN license|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||16% for registered nurses*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$67,490 for registered nurses*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Description of an Infection Control Practitioner
Infection control practitioners are responsible for the prevention, investigation, monitoring and reporting of the spread of diseases in hospitals. As such, the role of the infection control practitioner combines epidemiological and public health practices with administrative tasks. The job includes patient education and care as well as the education of medical staff regarding infection control protocols and policies.
Infection Control Practitioner Job Duties
Research and education are important functions of the job. These practitioners use scientific research to recommend, implement and monitor policies and procedures for hospital staff regarding sterilization, disinfection and decontamination of personnel, instruments and equipment. Infection control practitioners educate patients and their families, hold community or public outreach sessions regarding disease prevention and conduct education sessions for hospital employees.
Infection control practitioners serve public health interests by implementing disease outbreak intervention procedures in affected areas of the hospital and by notifying the appropriate public health authorities in the event of an outbreak. They also collect, record and analyze hospital records and lab reports to assess the extent of a disease outbreak in order to make the appropriate recommendations for action. Infection control practitioners must communicate with all divisions and departments of the hospital as well as with outside public health offices.
Career Outlook for Infection Control Practitioners
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted employment growth of 16% for registered nurses between 2014-2024, attributing the rapid growth to an aging population, an emphasis on prevention and scientific advances in the healthcare industry (www.bls.gov). Although employment growth for hospital RN positions is expected to be slower, the BLS anticipated excellent overall job opportunities for registered nurses with at least a bachelor's degree. The median salary of registered nurses was $67,490 in 2015, based on BLS data.
Acute care hospitals seeking to hire infection control practitioners expect a candidate to hold an RN license and at least a bachelor's degree in nursing, if not a master's degree in nursing or public health. Employers also recommend several years of experience in a hospital environment as well as coursework or study in epidemiology or public health.
Many employers also recommended certification through the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), which is administered through the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology (CBIC). To qualify for the exam, an applicant must be a licensed medical professional or hold a bachelor's degree and must be responsible for infection control and perform specific infection prevention and control duties (www.cbic.org).
An infection control practitioner is a nurse who handles policy implementation within a healthcare facility, ensuring that hospital staff are following proper sterilization and disinfection procedures. They may also participate in outreach programs to educate the public and patients about topics such as disease prevention. They need at least a bachelor's degree in nursing, along with hospital experience, and many employers look for professional certification in infection control.