What is a Toxicology Nurse?

You may never have met a toxicology nurse, but these health professionals are a vital part of the emergency response system in the United States. They staff poison control centers, work in emergency rooms and help patients deal with poison-related illnesses. If you’re looking for a unique job in nursing, consider if training as a nurse toxicologist is the right move for you. With limited patient contact, an opportunity to work alongside other medical professions and exciting career growth, toxicology nursing is a hidden gem of the nursing field.

What Does a Toxicology Nurse Do?

Over sixty percent of registered nurses work in hospitals and deliver patient care at the bedside, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This frequent physical contact with patients is one reason nurses suffer from unusually high rates of on-the-job injuries. Toxicology nursing provides an alternative to hands-on care and is perfect for new nurses looking for an office-like job or older nurses wanting a less physically taxing career. As a toxicology specialist, you’re most likely to work at a poison control center answering phone calls and providing expert medical advice to worried parents, victims of animal attacks or other patients. This work is stressful and time sensitive but doesn’t involved direct patient contact.

Degree Requirements

Toxicology health care is not limited to nurses. Your coworkers may be pharmacists, physicians or doctorate-level researchers. Regardless of licensure, all toxicology specialists must understand a broad range of physical symptoms, potential medication reactions and treatment options for patients. You will struggle to find specialized toxicology employment with only a diploma or associate’s degree in nursing (ASN). However, you can complete an RN to BSN program or an accelerated Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) program online and even take elective courses in microbiology and toxicology. You’ll increase your odds of being hired and your relationships with future coworkers by gaining more education.

Career Prospects in the Toxicology Field?

Poison control centers have faced funding difficulties in recent years due to federal and state budget cuts. However, the current focus on cost-effective health care programs is promising for poison control centers, as they are an important part of the preventative health system. As a registered nurse working in toxicology, you will have the greatest job security of all your coworkers given your versatility. Your bachelor’s in nursing training will cover patient counseling, medication evaluation, diagnosis and referral skills, giving you the ability to cover all areas of toxicology health care. Plus, your BSN coursework will cover business and management skills that your physician and pharmacist coworkers will not have learned in their degree programs, making you a natural choice for management positions in the toxicology center. As the national demand for nurses grows exponentially over the next decade, you can be positive that you’ll always have work in the nursing field.

Related Resource: What is a Sub-Acute Nurse?

You don’t have to plan your entire nursing career before heading back to school for a degree in nursing; you’ll learn so much about the profession throughout your studies. Whether or not you end up as a toxicology nurse, you will certainly find a rewarding and enjoyable lifelong passion in nursing.