Duties, Responsibilities, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary
Disease Intervention Specialists (DIS) are responsible for promoting public health and awareness of infectious diseases within a community. Thanks to Disease Intervention Specialists, at-risk groups are identified and those currently infected are notified, helping to prevent the spread of serious illnesses. Disease Intervention Specialists serve as agents of awareness and public health.
We’ve put together this career guide to help you better understand the role of a Disease Intervention Specialist. If you possess strong investigative skills, an empathetic nature, and excellent customer service, becoming a Disease Intervention Specialist could be a great career choice. One of the many perks of this position is the ability to work remotely. In fact, we featured Disease Intervention Specialists on our list of the best work from home nursing jobs.
(Click here to see our full list of the best work from home nursing jobs)
Continue reading to learn more about the requirements, responsibilities, training, salary, and job outlook of Remote Disease Intervention Specialists.
Disease Intervention Specialist Definition
What is a Disease Intervention Specialist?
The position of a Disease Intervention Specialist (DIS) was initially created to fill a need in STD prevention. Now, these public health professionals possess investigative skills that have made them key responders to public health infectious disease threats. Disease Intervention Specialists are also responsible for tuberculosis outbreak response, HIV exposure notification, other infectious disease control efforts, and emergency responses.
Disease Intervention Specialist Duties & Responsibilities
What Does a Disease Intervention Specialist Do?
Disease Intervention Specialists serve as public health outreach workers who are most commonly responsible for locating and counseling people with sexually transmitted diseases as well as their contacts. Their skills include communication, contact tracing, interviewing, case analysis, and community engagement.
The job duties of a DIS parallel those that would be required to respond swiftly and efficiently to critical public health problems, such as bioterrorism.
Some of the day-to-day job responsibilities of a Disease Intervention Specialist include:
- Following up with patients who have STDs such as syphilis, HIV, and gonorrhea.
- Ensuring each patient receives appropriate treatment and educational counseling.
- Guaranteeing the partners of each patient are brought in for testing and treatment.
- Conducting voluntary interviews with patients to acquire the names and contact info of their partners.
- Using contact information to contact partners of patients and notify them of their potential exposure.
- Coaching the patient on how to successfully notify and refer their partners.
- Alerting exposed partners if the patient prefers that they do so.
- Employing ground-level investigative skills to perform job tasks related to public health infectious disease threats.
Where Do Disease Intervention Specialists Work?
Disease Intervention Specialists can work remotely for health departments, community health centers, and other similar institutions. They execute contact tracing, partner services, and emergency response for their employer. However, since the heart of this work is building trust, developing rapport, and providing support to the public, you will likely need to travel and meet other people in addition to virtual communication.
Disease Intervention Specialist Hours
Disease Intervention Specialists may work during regular business hours. They also tend to fill full-time positions at 40+ hours per week. On occasion, they may need to work outside of regular business hours and travel to events.
Disease Intervention Specialist Skills
Becoming a Disease Intervention Specialist might be a great fit for you if you:
- Offer excellent interpersonal communication skills
- Possess strong contact tracing skills
- Excel at interviewing, counseling, and case analysis
- Have observational awareness
- Engage with the community as necessary
- Are dependable, empathetic, resourceful, and supportive
- Approach tasks with a patient and dedicated mindset
- Work well with others, various types of personalities, etc.
Disease Intervention Specialist Schooling & Certification
How Long Does it Take to Become a Disease Intervention Specialist?
What Degree Do You Need to Be a Disease Intervention Specialist?
In order to be qualified for the role of a Disease Intervention Specialist, you will likely need to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Some employers will require that you obtain a bachelor’s degree in epidemiology or public health and policy and work experience in the health field. Many employers will also allow you to take the knowledge and skills you’ve learned from earning your BSN and apply those to the role of a Disease Intervention Specialist.
If you pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, this means you must graduate from an accredited nursing program. You may also need to pass the NCLEX-RN licensing exam and seek two to four years of related experience.
If you’d like to become a Remote Disease Intervention Specialist, then you’ll need to take the following steps:
1. Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree (BSN)
The first step to becoming a DIS is to earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree. While you could also earn a degree in public health or epidemiology, earning your BSN will likely set you up for better job opportunities, higher earning potential, and a greater job outlook.
Candidates of BSN programs must usually submit various application materials, such as academic transcripts, GRE scores, personal essays, and letters of recommendation.
The core nursing classes during a BSN program often include the following topics:
- Professional nursing
- Health assessment
- Family nursing
- Medical and surgical care
- Nursing management
- Psychosocial nursing
(Click here for our detailed guide on becoming a Registered Nurse)
2. Gain Specialized Training
If you’re looking to become a DIS, you may need to gain specialized job training through your employer. This training generally includes how to ascertain public health issues, discuss sensitive matters with patients, and any other health and safety regulations relevant to the field.
Disease Intervention Specialist School Cost
So, how much does it cost to become a Disease Intervention Specialist? As previously stated, most Disease Intervention Specialists have at least earned a bachelor’s degree. If they choose to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, the cost will normally depend on the institution.
However, you can probably expect to pay anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000 when this process is all said and done.
Work from Home Opportunities
Before applying for your first remote job, consider shadowing a seasoned DIS. This allows you to observe their day-to-day tasks. In this role, peer assistance and mentoring are a vital part of the learning process. Speak with other Disease Intervention Specialists as well as their supervisors to gain vital support. It would also be beneficial to interact with specialists across the country. For instance, you could attend the the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD) Annual Conference.
Once you have completed your training, you can pursue remote positions in the field. Check out job boards on registerednursing.org, content on nursejournal.org, and job listings on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to look for open positions on Indeed and Ziprecruiter, too!
Below are other DIS resources that might aid your job search:
- The DIS Certification Project
- DIS Certification Video
- Contact Tracing Infographic
- Technology-Based Services
- Internet Partner Services Toolkit Blog
Disease Intervention Specialist’s Salary
How Much Does a Disease Intervention Specialist Make?
According to Salary.com, the average salary of a Disease Intervention Specialist is about $45,000 per year or around $22 per hour. Disease Intervention Specialists earning salaries in the 90th percentile can make more than $50,000 per year.
(Click here to learn about the highest paid nursing jobs)
Disease Intervention Specialist Job Outlook
Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) may not offer specific job outlook data for Disease Intervention Specialists at this time, but they do predict great overall growth for medical professionals and epidemiologists through the next decade. According to the BLS, overall employment of epidemiologists is expected to grow 30 percent by 2029.
Why Pursue a Career as a Disease Intervention Specialist?
If you’re looking for a new career in the medical field, you might want to consider becoming a Disease Intervention Specialist. As a DIS, you can act as a patient navigator and network builder to ensure people are connected to care through expanded relationships with medical providers. Your skills fill a crucial role of the public health infrastructure. In addition, they will become increasingly necessary as the healthcare landscape continues to evolve.