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Infection Control Nurse

Stop the spread of infection at a hospital.

What does an Infection Control Nurse do?

People enter the hospital to recover from an injury or illness. Sometimes, though, they get even sicker because they pick up nasty infections during their stay. As an Infection Control Nurse, you spend the day treating these infections and preventing new ones from taking hold in the hospital.

If a patient already has an infection, you take a sample of infected tissue from them (you try not to hurt them in the process, or make any comment about how terrible the sample smells), and then test the sample to determine what sort of bacteria is building a colony in the patient. You then talk to their Doctor about what you found. You may also help clean their wounds, and provide advice on medications that can be used to stop the infection.

Through your work as an Infection Control Nurse, you may discover a new infection that has never been documented. Or you may deal with another infection that spreads quickly throughout the hospital despite your best efforts. You report these to the state or county health board or the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). If the infection is quite serious, you may quarantine the patient until experts from the CDC arrive.

As an Infection Control Nurse, you may also function as a one-person infection-fighting machine in the hospital, designing programs to teach Doctors and Nurses about infections. You make sure Doctors and Nurses wash their hands and wear gloves, and the cleaning staff is using proper techniques. You spend much of your day watching, teaching, reprimanding, and pointing, all in hopes of getting the staff to comply with your program.