Toxicology Nurse: Salary & Job Description

Toxicology nurses help with diagnosing, assessing, and caring for patients who are suffering adverse health effects due to the ingestion of toxins or a bite by a venomous animal or insect. This article outlines the field of toxicology nursing and the requirements to become a toxicology nurse.

What Is a Toxicology Nurse?

Medical toxicology is a subset of medicine that focuses on the treatment and prevention of health issues brought on by poisons and other harmful substances. Toxicology nurses care for patients that have ingested toxins, either by swallowing poison or being bitten by a venomous animal or insect. The main job duties of toxicology nurses include taking the patient's vital signs, testing the patient's verbal response when they are admitted to the emergency room and recording information about the type of toxin ingested and time of ingestion, if known. Toxicology nurses may also need to consult with poison control if the type of toxin or correct treatment is unknown. Toxicology nurses should also monitor the patient's status and watch for any signs that the patient's condition might be worsening, so that they can alert the physician as soon as possible of any change.

In addition, toxicology nurses may spend time working with the public to educate them about recognizing and avoiding harmful substances.

Educational Requirements RN license and experience working as a registered nurse; Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN); certification by the American Association of Poison Control Centers
Job Skills Interpersonal skills, ability to work well under pressure, knowledge of common toxins and treatments
Median Salary (2017) $70,000 (registered nurses)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 15% growth (registered nurses)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Prospective toxicology nurses will need to complete an Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in addition to completing the NCLEX-RN exam and obtaining an RN license. Prospective toxicology nurses may also be required to complete two years of work experience as a registered nurse in an emergency room.

Certification as a Poison Information Specialist is also available through the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

Required Skills

Toxicology nurses must have proficient interpersonal skills, as they will be working closely with patients face to face and may also need to call to consult with poison control on occasion. They should also be able to work well under pressure and in a fast-paced environment, as they will need to react quickly when faced with emergency situations with potentially life-threatening consequences. It could also be helpful for toxicology nurses to have cursory knowledge of common toxins and the required methods of treatment for each of them.

Career Outlook and Salary

There is no specific salary and career outlook information for toxicology nurses. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does provide these statistics for registered nurses overall. The median salary for registered nurses as of 2017 was $70,000 annually, and the career field is expected to grow by 15% between the years of 2016 and 2026, which is faster than the average among all occupations.

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