What Does a Gastroenterology Nurse Do?
Gastroenterology nurses, also known as endoscopy nurses, work with physicians in treating and diagnosing patients with conditions affecting the digestive system and gastrointestinal (GI) tract, like reflux, bleeding, cancer and abdominal pains. Other conditions they deal with regularly include carcinoma, ulcers, dysphagia, dyspepsia and the removal of foreign bodies. Gastroenterology nurses can work in a variety of setting including acute care hospitals, outpatient clinics, private medical offices and even manufacturing companies. A large part of the job of a gastroenterology nurse is also educating their patients on the conditions they have and various ways to manage their symptoms in daily life. These nurses should also be great communicators as they deal daily with patients, families, nutritionists, home care specialists, physicians and more. They should also be familiar with such technology as exploratory endoscopic procedures, x-rays and computerized tomography scans. If conditions are severe enough, gastroenterology nurses can assist physicians with surgical procedures.
How Can I Become a Gastroenterology Nurse?
To become a gastroenterology nurse, one must first become a registered nurse. This can be accomplished by earning either a two or four year nursing degree and by passing the National Council Licensure Examination–Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). After working for several years as a registered nurse in a gastroenterology setting to gain practical experience, and acquiring two professional references, a nurse is eligible to take the credentialing exam. This exam can provide greater job opportunities, as well as security. The exam will earn a nurse the title of Certified Gastroenterology Specialty Nurse (CGSN). The exam is administered through the Certifying Board of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (CBGNA) and contains 150 multiple choice questions in the areas of general nursing care, gastroenterological procedures, patient care interviews and professional standards. It generally takes a candidate three hours to complete. Upon successfully earning certification, a professional must complete a set number of continued education hours in order to remain on top of the latest gastroenterological trends.
What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for a Gastroenterology Nurse?
There is an overall growing need for nurses across the United States that is only projected to increase in the coming years. This is great news for recent nursing graduates preparing to enter the work force. The highest growth rate, 48%, is estimated to occur in physician’s offices, which can include outpatient care centers and those that specialize in endoscopic procedures. One of the leading causes for the increased demand in nursing as well as gastroenterology nursing, is the influx of aging baby boomers in the health care system. This older population has greater health care needs that will require more medical professionals to treat. The average salary for a gastroenterology nurse is around $50,000, but can depend greatly on one’s education and certification level and geographic location. One of the drawbacks to working as this type of nurse is the limited patient follow up and inability to form long relationships with patients. A benefit to becoming a gastroenterology nurse is the ability to improve the quality of living of the patients treated.