1. Miller, Crystal BSN, CRNI, NE-BC


With a focus on safety, these nurses manage all infusion needs.


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In my fourth year as a nurse, I remember watching in awe as an infusion nurse arrived at my patient's bedside and, with quiet confidence, skillfully inserted a peripheral intravenous catheter (PIVC). Then, just as quickly as she arrived, she was gone, moving on to another patient in the hospital. My interest was piqued. I remember thinking, "What a great job, traveling to all areas of the hospital-I could be an infusion nurse." With utter naivety, I thought, "How hard could it be?"

Figure. Crystal Mill... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. Crystal Miller

If any of my fellow infusion nurses are reading this column, I'm sure they're chuckling at my prior inexperience. I quickly learned that being an infusion nurse is much more than what I had observed that day; I learned, for instance, the significant impact a patient's fluid and electrolytes have on their vasculature. This complex specialty requires critical thinking to ensure positive patient outcomes through the delivery of skilled, technical expertise.


What we do. An infusion nurse specializes in the practice of infusion therapy-the administration of IV medications or fluids. This type of therapy is delivered to patients of all ages and populations across all health care settings. Infusion therapy is essential when a patient's treatment cannot be given via other routes, such as oral.


The infusion nurse's primary focus is patient safety, as demonstrated through the comprehensive management of all patient infusion needs, including planning for and inserting the vascular access device (VAD). A VAD is used to access the veins and can range from short PIVCs to peripherally inserted central catheters, implanted ports, central venous catheters, and tunneled catheters.


We also look beyond the patient's vasculature, examining a patient's laboratory values, managing and administering the therapeutic treatment regimen, recognizing and managing complications, and overseeing the conclusion of treatment and VAD discontinuation. A large part of our role is also education, and as infusion educators we look to see that best clinical practices are being utilized.


Challenges. A challenge in health care today is ensuring that quality infusion nursing is available for all patients. As the RN workforce continues to dwindle, newly graduated nurses are often tasked with starting PIVCs without much hands-on experience. We need to ensure that the infusion education provided has a sound foundation and is evidence based.


Career goals. Infusion nurses often strive to obtain the certified registered nurse infusion (CRNI) credential, which demonstrates knowledge and expertise within the specialty and validates the nurse's clinical experience. The certified infusion nurse is a leader who is dedicated to ongoing professional development, remains current in the practice of infusion therapy, and adheres to the Infusion Therapy Standards of Practice-an invaluable resource that serves as the foundation for many organizations' infusion policies and procedures.


Connecting with colleagues. Membership within a specialty nursing organization can provide nurses with access to numerous resources. The Infusion Nurses Society (INS; is no exception, offering its global membership of 5,000 nurses a variety of educational opportunities, meetings, and publications, including the Standards of Practice. As we prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the INS this year, I recognize that the future of infusion nursing is predicated on engaging and mentoring newer members and future leaders. We must engage our younger nursing colleagues and align with their vision of future nursing practice.


Membership in an organization such as the INS is also a wonderful conduit for connecting with colleagues. Becoming a member helped me validate my decision to become an infusion nurse, and I have made professional connections that have evolved into lifelong friendships I truly treasure.


As we celebrate National IV Nurse Day on January 25, it seems fitting that infusion nursing is showcased in this inaugural Specialty Spotlight column. On this day, first designated by Congress in 1980, let us honor the work of all nurses who have remained resilient through the many challenges we face.