Above all else, the role of an infusion nurse (also known as a vascular access nurse) is one that focuses on the patient. “The pandemic has challenged us to look at the way we deliver infusion and vascular access care in our patients as never before,” says Miller.
IV nurses work in roles where taking care of immediate needs is essential, but, she says, they must constantly look at the bigger picture. “We have to look down the road so our patients get what they need from the outset,” she says. “We need to look long and hard at the best device to treat patients, especially those who are impacted by COVID-19.” A device or approach that might have worked when a patient was admitted to a facility may no longer be effective as the patient’s condition changes.
Miller is unequivocally proud of her specialty and of being part of the INS. “We are more than the equipment we use,” she says. And with vascular access as a global issue, Miller says INS decided to take a fresh look at what a global approach means to their nurses and patients.
“We’ve always been proactive in how we deliver the care we give,” she says. “We make sure the people who are at the table represent those in their areas.” Doing so makes sure INS is present and aware of diversity, equity, and inclusion issues and how they impact healthcare delivery and outcomes. “We want to make sure people have a voice,” says Miller. “And we want to make sure as an organization that every patient we see has a voice and is represented.”
DEI work is not a one-and-done deal, says Miller. “Whatever we develop and put forth, we need to make sure it’s ongoing work.” That means looking at how diversity is represented including different genders and identities, sexual preference and orientation, practice settings, and culture and race. “To the best of the abilities of our organization, we want to make sure we don’t put forth something that doesn’t consider how people feel,” she says. “We challenge others to listen with empathy and care.”
One of the best ways to learn about and to improve on DEI work is to talk with people, says Miller. Learning about what is important to people, how they do things, and how they see the world imparts the kind of detailed knowledge that can make all the difference to a patient. Once you are informed, you can always do things a little better and that gets noticed. “When you prove your credibility, there are no limits,” she says. “When you recognize things are outdated, you change them up.”
With a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, a new interaction with patients opens up, especially with those from underrepresented populations. “Patients are grateful for the advocacy,” says Miller, “because there is someone in their corner, who is advocating for them and listening to them.”
The pandemic has shifted DEI efforts in ways that no one could have predicted. Of all the different healthcare practices or interactions patients may or may not be comfortable with, the need to separate people and keep them isolated has created an enormous burden for families and healthcare staff. “There are no family members present who can speak to a patient’s preferences,” says Miller. Vascular access nurses have shifted into finding innovative techniques to overcome this barrier.
On this year’s IV Nurses Day, Miller says although the typical celebrations aren’t possible, it’s still important to honor the work infusion and vascular access nurses do. “For me personally, I think there’s so much uncertainty in work and in healthcare now—it’s good to know we get to recognize our specialty,” says Miller. “We are the best resources where vascular access is concerned and we take that very seriously.”
Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of National IV Nurse Day, which was made a national recognition day in 1980.
For 40 years, National IV Nurse Day has honored the day-to-day professional work and accomplishments of infusion nurses across the world. This path of nursing is one that informs each step of patient care and treatment.
According to the Infusion Nurses Society, patients rely on the expert care of the infusion nurses who work with them to administer fluids and medications and establish best practices for infusion therapy.
Healthcare teams rely on infusion therapy nurses to begin any kind of infusion therapy and in all kinds of settings. Whether it’s in the hectic emergency department or in pre-op care, patients depend on IV nurses to administer precision care with a calm and professional demeanor. Patients respond to IV care with a range of emotions and reactions, so IV nurses must be ready to do their work on both calm and agitated patients as well as on patients of all ages.
As with the entire nursing spectrum, IV nurses must remain current on the specialty’s best practices and any evidence-based changes that will make patients’ health and safety more assured and will make their jobs easier. A certified registered nurse infusion (CRNI) is a nurse who has received certification for infusion therapy to ensure the highest standards in practice. Nurses who aim for this highly recommended certification must prepare for a rigorous exam that will test them in all aspects of IV care.
Because this specialty continues to improve and develop with medical advancements and technological improvements, remaining current in the field is essential. Nurses who achieve this credential are able to provide the best nursing care based on the latest information on medications, physical responses, line placement, and equipment changes.
With this knowledge, they care for patients in organizations and are also able to help educate patients, families, and caretakers of patients who may go home with some kind of IV line. They can teach about why a patient needs this treatment and how this kind of IV line will help the patient. They also offer education about how to care for the site, what to watch for, and what to do in certain circumstances.
As a registered nurse with a specialty, IV nurses will see a robust career outlook with a predicated continued demand for nurses. Because IV nurses are involved in so many aspects of patient care, they are a vital member of the healthcare team and their specialty practice only increases that value.
On National IV Nurse Day, take a moment to thank the IV members of your organization. And if you’re an IV Nurse, thank you for all you do!
On January 25, IV nurses around the country will once again be recognized with a day in their honor. Since 1980, the Infusion Nurses Society has sponsored IV Nurse Day has called attention to the nurses who specialize in infusion nursing.
This year’s theme “It’s About Us. It’s About Infusion.” highlights IV nurses’ dedication to their professional careers and their commitment to their patients’ health and safety.
Infusion nurses are drawn to the specialty for various reasons. Many enjoy the direct patient care and their essential place in a medical team. They are able to offer patient and family education for those who are seen in offices and centers and to those who require infusions out of a clinic or hospital setting. And they are also able to remain current on innovative practices and medication management.
IV nurses must know how to properly place infusion equipment to reduce pain, increase accurate placement, and prevent infection. They need to understand what medications (antibiotics to chemotherapy) and fluids (blood to saline) they are administering and keep tabs so they know which medications might interact. Infusion nurses keep track of infusion sites for any signs of infection, poor placement, or discomfort.
According to Salary.com, infusions nurses make anywhere from $78,550 to $94,136 annually. IV nurses who want to remain at the cutting-edge of the industry and who want to provide the best possible patient care should become certified as a CRNI (Certified Registered Nurse Infusion). Certification requires extra training and a deeper dive into the details of this specialty. Obtaining certification means you have the latest tools to help your patients.
While infusion nurses are masters at the task of establishing a line or a catheter with minimal discomfort and excellent placement, they are also doing it all while talking with and often comforting a patient and any present loved ones. They are able to distract with words and actions, to establish a trust and connection with their mannerisms, and reassure with their knowledge. All of this direct patient care is what makes an IV nurse’s job different every day.
Take the time today to thank the IV nurses in your life!
The celebration of IV Nurse Day every January 25 recognizes the work infusion nurses do with and for their patients. Infusion nurses are an essential part of the care team, acting to properly care for infusion needs and collaborating with other members of the health care team.
“Challenges in our ever-changing healthcare system combined with new, developing technologies and complex infusion therapies, afford the opportunity for the infusion nurse to use his/her expertise in infusion therapy to provide holistic patient care,” says Marlene Steinheiser, MSN, RN, CRNI®, director of nursing education of the Infusion Nurses Society (INS), Infusion Nurses Certification Corporation.
Of the primary responsibilities of an IV nurse, acting with the patient’s health and welfare in mind is primary. Celebrated since 1980, IV Nurse Day focuses attention on this essential care. “The infusion nurse acts as an advocate for patients receiving infusion therapy, ensuring that safe, quality infusion care is delivered,” says Steinheiser. “Patient assessment, with particular attention to the patient’s vasculature and prescribed therapy, is important so that the appropriate vascular access device (VAD) is selected to accommodate the treatment plan.”
Steinheiser also says that many infusion nurses also take on leadership roles where they provide education and guidance to other nurses while also continually monitoring for complications and setting in motion effective interventions when needed.
Student nurses interested in the career will find infusion nurses are not limited to specific settings. “Infusion nurses’ roles may vary depending upon the practice setting,” Steinheiser says. “Infusion nurses work in many settings, agencies, and organizations including, but not limited to, hospitals, nursing homes, ambulatory infusion clinicals, physician offices, and patient homes.”
According to Steinheiser, expert infusion nurses can help reduce complications by sharing their knowledge and educating patients, family members, and other healthcare team members and always assessing the patient. “Skilled VAD insertion, prevention of complications and early identification coupled with implementation of interventions, minimizes further damage that can result from infusion-related complications,” she says.
Like any nursing career, this branch of nursing requires continual education to stay current with best evidence-based practices that help prevent, reduce, and treat any complications or challenges. “Due to the invasive nature of infusion therapy, infusion nurses can encounter possible adverse events with any infusion, such as extravasation, catheter malposition, nerve damage, or infection,” Steinheiser says. “The infusion nurse is prepared with advanced knowledge and continuing education to promptly address these situations.”
The INS is an excellent resource for current and future infusion nurses. The organization offers free educational podcasts (available to members and nonmembers) where nurses can learn about and refresh their skills for safe infusion practices. And the learning center provides both virtual education and recorded educational sessions from prior conferences and webinars, and what Steinheiser calls a key resource for infusion nurses, the Infusion Therapy Standards of Practice.
As with other nursing practices, nurses with the desire to specialize in infusion therapy may study and take the certification exam offered twice a year, says Steinheiser. “To assist the nurse in preparing for this exam, INS has study material which covers the eight core components of infusion nursing,” she says. “Once nurses pass this exam, they are considered infusion nurse specialists and can begin using the credential CRNI®. The CRNI® is capable of an expanded role in directing evidence-based clinical practice, research, and quality improvement activities.”
Infusion nurses care for all patients, providing care that helps many other healthcare processes go more smoothly. “Infusion nurses provide for all patient populations, from the neonate to the elderly patient, and follow them along the continuum of care,” says Steinheiser. “Infusion nurses use their critical thinking skills, perform advanced procedures using state-of-the-art technology, and ensure safe infusion care.”
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