An infusion therapist (RN) is, as the name would imply, a registered nurse; however, the skill-set required of an RN infusion therapist is very specific. Chief among these nurses’ talents should be the ability to locate a vein and successfully start a line into it, and they should be able to do this almost anywhere on a patient’s body. Infusion therapists specialize in ensuring that patients get the intravenous therapies they need as prescribed by doctors. And, because of the wide variety of patients they serve, they may often need to start IVs on body parts other than the standard forearm or back of a hand.
Infusion therapists (RN) must hold at least Bachelor's degree in Nursing, and have significant experience with patients, and the venipuncture techniques which allow them to perform intravenous therapy. As an RN, the nurse must also pass the NCLEX-RN examination, as well as be licensed by the state agency regulating nurses (depending on the state). They must comply with any ongoing education requirements of RNs, as well.
Infusion therapy nurses are not only responsible for tapping patients’ veins, but also overseeing the entire infusion therapy process. This includes ensuring that their patients are comfortable, not experiencing any negative reactions to their therapies, and, of course, knowing what to do in the event of such a negative reaction. They must also be able to review orders to ensure that the patient does not have any contraindications to the prescribed medicines.
These highly-skilled professionals work in an indoor setting, generally one dedicated to health care; this could mean anything from a small, dedicated infusion therapy clinic to a large hospital. A 40-hour work-week is common and generally features first-shift hours, though those infusion therapists who work in hospitals may have a broader range of hours/shifts. Co-workers are usually fellow nurses and nursing staff (such as CNAs), and infusion therapists are generally supervised by one or more doctors.
Infusion Therapist (RN) Tasks
- Schedule appointments and notify patients of chemotherapy test results.
- Administer prescribed doses of medication to specific body parts, using intravenous or injectable medications, according to established practices and standards.
- Perform and educate patients in performing intravenous and injectable procedures.
- Monitor and check for side effects such as skin irritation, nausea and hair loss to assess patients' reaction to treatment.
- Maintain records, reports and files as required, including such information as radiation dosages, equipment settings and patients' reactions.