An infection control practitioner is responsible for many aspects of preventing and monitoring the spread of infections in a hospital setting. While some practitioners work directly in the field, many work in the research area analyzing data and developing new procedures to prevent infections from spreading throughout a population. To become an infection control practitioner, you will need at least a Bachelor’s degree in nursing and several years of experience in infection control areas. Impeccable attention to detail and the ability to work under pressure are also vital skills in the profession.
The first step to become an infection control practitioner is obtaining at least a Bachelor’s degree in nursing. The four-year program covers all the essential information for the nursing field and prepares you to take the licensing test required to become a registered nurse. The courses also cover the basics of infection control, including good hygiene practices, but it may be a good idea to take a few classes that specialize in disease control. Most infection control jobs only require a Bachelor’s degree, but if you plan to work in management, you may want to consider continuing on for your Masters degree.
Once you have obtained your license to work as a registered nurse, the next step to become an infection control practitioner is obtaining adequate experience in the field. The research end of the position requires extensive knowledge of how infections work, so employers typically expect you to have at least two years working in the field. In the beginning, you may need to work as an intern in the infection control division of a facility and work your way up to a paid position.
Attention to detail is an extremely important quality to have if you are planning to become an infection control practitioner. You will be responsible for analyzing data from lab results, physician’s records, and numerous other sources. All of this data will be combined to present a complete picture of the course of a particular infection, and missing even the smallest detail can significantly alter the results.
While the day-to-day research duties of your job as an infection control practitioner will be fairly quiet and slow-paced, there will be times when a highly contagious infection requires fast thinking and action. During cases like these, you will need to work under extreme pressure. You will also need good communication and people skills to help you interview patients and report to the disease control organization in your area.