Q&A with Infusion Nurse, Cora Vizcarra, RN, CRNI, MBA
BestNursingDegree.com speaks with infusion nurse, Cora Vizcarra, RN, CRNI, MBA. Vizcarra is President of MCV & Associates Healthcare, Inc. (www.mcvassociates.com), a group of professional consultants specializing in vascular access, infusion therapy, and more. In addition, she is the past president of the Infusion Nurses Society and a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Infusion Nursing.
Below she talks about her experience in the field and how to get started in infusion nursing.
Q: Can you describe your current position?
I am a registered nurse. I'm also a certified registered nurse in infusion therapy. Currently, I am a nurse consultant for a company called MCV & Associates, which is a consulting and education company. We specialize in training nurses and other health care providers in infusion therapy and vascular access.
Q: What is infusion therapy?
We start IVs and PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) lines. We also care for central access and central vascular access. We work a lot with technology. This is an area in which we use technology 50 percent of the time when taking care of our patients or finding vascular access. If you're not [technologically] inclined, then this might not be the area for you.
Q: How did you get started in infusion nursing and what kind of preparation does someone pursuing this career need?
When I was working at a regional hospital, they had an IV team. I always admired those nurses. Their responsibilities were fascinating to me. So at some point, I thought, ìWell, you know I'm really tired of ICU.î I really wanted to venture and try something else. I asked if they would take me, and because of my experience with ICU and my experience with lines, they were very interested. If you're a new grad, you can't just get out of school and go right into infusion. It really takes a lot of experience.
Q: In general, are there any specific traits that work well in this career?
The most important thing is having medical-surgical experience. If you don't, you have to have CCU, ICU, or even emergency room [experience]. Those places help you develop your assessment and critical judgment skills, which are very important for infusion nursing. And then, of course, the technology part of it comes in, and you have to be a little bit tech-savvy, which can be learned. But the assessment and critical judgment skills [are what] help you determine what will be best for the patient.
You also have to be independent. Because a lot of the time, [you will be working by yourself].
Q: What kind of changes have there been in infusion nursing in the last few years?
In the last few years, I have seen a resurgence of a specialty group of nurses. We probably don't call them IV teams anymore, but [they are] a group of nurses who are dedicated to taking care of vascular access patients. This [resurgence] goes along with the initiative to reduce and prevent catheter-related bloodstream infection. They have found that if you have a group of nurses that are specialized and very meticulous in what they do, [there will be less variation in treatment]. This [attention to detail] helps prevent catheter-related bloodstream infection. The other thing, on the infusion therapy side, is that there are now a lot more biological therapies given intravenously. [For example, treatments are now given for] chronic illnesses and autoimmune disorders for which we didn't used to have a treatment. [Examples include]: rheumatoid arthritis, gout, Crohn's disease and psoriasis.
Q: What do you see for the future of infusion nursing?
The technology is just expanding. We now have a lot of different technologies that help us find exactly where the veins are, especially for those patients who have veins that are difficult to access. We also have technology that as you're inserting the PICC line, tells you exactly where you're going, and whether or not you're in the right place. That's very exciting, and a lot of ultrasounds are heading that way. [Also, in some cases], PICC nurses are [being allowed] to interpret the X-ray for line placements, so that the patient can receive their therapy right away.
Q: Any other particular recommendations for aspiring infusion nurses?
Sometimes [you might not go for a position] because you don't have the IV experience. But, don't give up. Everybody has to start from scratch. The most important things are not just getting the experience and being on an IV team, but getting the credentials. There is a certification program for registered nurses, which certifies them to become infusion nurses. That is the only true certification, [and] I think everybody should aim for it.