For many, the health field is a true calling. Being able to earn a great salary while helping others is something that few other jobs can offer, but that the health field has in abundance. With that in mind, it makes sense that becoming a nurse is one of the most popular career choices in the country. A nurse epidemiologist takes the nursing career one step further, and could be exactly what you’re looking for in a career.
These professionals work to improve the overall health and wellbeing of patients and even populations in a facility, and are quickly becoming one of the most in-demand nursing specialists in the medical field. If you want to know more about the job and what it involves, keep reading.
What Is a Nurse Epidemiologist?
A nurse epidemiologist is a nursing professional who focuses on making sure that patients receive optimal care, but who also reduce overall infection risks and focus on prevention measures as well as on infection control and direct patient nursing. Specific job duties may include the following:
- Examine patients and determine potential presence of infection
- Assess risk factors within a patient, a facility, or even a population
- Identify areas that need to be modified for better infection control
- Monitor patient care to ensure infection isn’t transmitted throughout the population
- Work to develop policies and procedures that can help reduce infections and control disease
- Consult with other medical professionals and policy makers to help reduce infection risk and promote better overall health
As you can see, a nurse epidemiologist primarily focuses on preventing the spread of disease rather than on treating existing infections. Their work is focused on boosting overall public health, and while they can treat individual patients they primarily help to protect others from contracting infectious diseases – including their own coworkers.
Training is vital to success in the role of a nurse epidemiologist, but there are plenty of personal traits that can help as well. If you’re thinking of becoming a nurse epidemiologist, having strength in the following areas can help tremendously.
- Multitasking – A nurse epidemiologist generally handles numerous roles and tasks at any given time. You’ll need to be able to multitask effectively.
- Good Communication Skills – Since explaining and promoting effective infection prevention measures is a key part of the job, it’s vital that you have strong communication skills.
- Detail Oriented – In this role, the smallest things can unlock major clues. As such, being very detailed oriented will help you identify potential risk areas and also learn more about health issues that may not be obvious.
- Works Well Under Stress – The job can be fast paced and stressful, and if you want to thrive in it you will need to be able to perform well under stress.
Nature of the Work
The job usually involves a combination of things including work in a lab, an exam room, and the office. An average day could vary greatly, and one day may involve collecting specimen samples and running tests while the next day could be made up entirely of meetings with management in the health facility.
Nurse epidemiologists will find work in government branches, hospitals, private physician offices, research centers, and nearly anywhere else in the medical field. The nature of their job will depend largely upon their employer and their role within the organization.
Education and Training
Entry level positions as a nurse epidemiologist will usually require that you hold at least a bachelor’s degree in the field of nursing. These courses prepare you for licensure through the NCLEX. After this, you’ll likely need to work for at least 2 or more years in a public health setting as a nurse. Most employers require 3 to 5 years of clinical nursing experience.
Next, complete a master’s or doctoral degree program in nursing. However, choose to specialize in the area of epidemiology. Most nursing programs offer specialization, and you may also specialize in areas within the epidemiology field as well. Different employers may have different requirements for the position, of course, but this is a good guideline of what to expect.
The average salary for a nurse epidemiologist is roughly $75,000 annually. Specific pay will depend on a variety of different factors including things like location in the country, your employer, any subspecialties you may have, and overall experience.