How to Become an Infectious Disease Nurse

Learn how to become an infectious disease nurse and read about education, salary and career outlook information.

Nurse working in lab

Become an Infectious Disease Nurse Basics

What you’ll do: Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) who focus on infectious disease control work primarily in major health care facilities and community health organizations. In an effort to monitor and prevent the spread of drug-resistant infections, they serve as policy-makers, administrators, educators, consultants, researchers and in other roles.

Degree you’ll need to practice: As advanced practice nurses, clinical nurse specialists typically have earned both a 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and a 2-year Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree.

Certification: The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) does not offer certification for infectious disease nursing at this time.

Median annual salary: $77,460*

Career Overview

Once you become an infectious disease nurse, you’ll work in hospitals, nursing homes and community health services, including non-profit health care clinics, universities and others, where they treat the specific needs of a wide variety of patients.

Along with treating patients for their specific issues, many infectious disease nurses are also responsible for projects and analyses that impact the overall care that an infectious disease unit or treatment facility provides.

In a day’s work, they might provide care for patients who suffer from the following:

  • Infections that are not responding to multiple drugs
  • Large, complicated wounds that require advanced clinical care
  • HIV infection
  • Conditions that requires special isolation requirements

Here are some of the projects that impact the overall care an infectious disease unit or treatment facility provides:

  • Evaluating cost-effectiveness and outcomes of patient care
  • Examining and facilitating solutions to economic, social, ethical and legal issues related to patient care
  • Developing and implementing leadership strategies that demonstrate responsibility and improve health care
  • Performing and communicating nursing research and results

Infectious Disease Nurse Education

Because the nature and treatment of infectious diseases changes rapidly, infectious disease nurses must continuously expand their education and training in their specialty in order to provide proper care for their patients. Nursing schools and hospital-based programs can help you keep your knowledge and skills current and sharpen your job expertise.

Infectious Disease Nursing Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ current Occupational Outlook Handbook, all registered nurses can expect excellent career opportunities through 2026, with an estimated 15 percent growth rate, which is much faster than average. In addition to clinical practice, CNSs can take leadership and research roles in universities, hospitals and other health care settings, or work as private consultants.

Infectious disease nurses are on the front lines of treating and curing illnesses that can have an incredible impact on entire populations. The demand for their skills and expertise increases steadily as new infections arise. And their contribution to the health and welfare of so many brings immeasurable professional and personal rewards, making infectious disease nursing an exciting possibility for nurses looking to advance their careers.

Sources: Queensland Health; University of Washington; American Nurses Credentialing Center; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018-19 Occupational Outlook Handbook; Registered Nurses.

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

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