Biologics are medicinal products or therapies created by biological processes -- that is, by natural processes rather than engineered chemistry -- and include but are not limited to blood, tissues, vaccines, allergenics, gene therapy, somatic cells, and therapeutic proteins. Manufactured biologic therapy products come from the isolated components of a variety of natural sources such as sugars, proteins and living cells. Biologic products tend to be susceptible to microbial contamination and are heat-sensitive, so biologic specialist must oversee treatments involving the administration of these products. Biologics specialist nurses, clinical nurse specialists and biologics nurses are all biologics specialists in nursing.
Biologic specialist nurses oversee the administration and treatment of patients undergoing biologic therapies. Responsibilities include patient screening, treatment administration, education, patient support and prescription coordination. The safe use of biological therapies requires specialized training. Biologics specialist nurses must assess a disease's progression in relation to its therapy, so prior nursing experience is often required for certification as a biologics specialty nurse. For example, a biologics nurse specializing in oncology administers cancer vaccines and watches for signs of adverse reactions.
Many biologic treatments use intravenous drugs to administer medication to patients. Biologic products tend to be susceptible to microbial contamination; because of the complex nature of biologic treatments, the need for observational care during patient treatment is essential. Biologic specialist nurses must constantly monitor patients and their reactions during biologic treatments. Since biologic treatment is so complex in nature, biologic specialists tend to focus on a specific biologic therapy area. Biologic specialist nurses can specialize in a variety of biologic therapeutic areas, including rheumatoid arthritis, Osteoarthritis, oncology, Crohn's disease and psoriasis.
Biologic specialist nursing careers require undergraduate degrees in nursing. Biologic specialists must meet state qualifications for registered nurse licensing. For example, Arizona requires a clinical nurse specialist to have an Arizona RN license, proof that the nurse has completed the required certification coursework, and verification of U.S. citizenship.
Nurse Specialist Certification
In addition to an undergraduate degree, each biologics treatment specialty has its own required certification. For example, an advanced oncology certified clinical nurse specialist certification is required for oncology nurse specialist. Most certifications require at least 12 months of RN work experience and a current RN license. Certification course work for graduation varies depending upon the biologics specialist nurse's chosen area of treatment.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 -- Registered Nurses
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: What Are "Biologics" Questions and Answers
- British Journal of Nursing: Biological Nurse Specialist: Goodwill to Good Practice
- Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center: Biological Therapy FAQ
- "Oncology Today"; Biologics; May 2010
- Darent Valley Hospital: Challenges in Modern Rheumatology: Are We Ready?; February 10, 2011
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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