Gastroenterology is the field of medicine concerning the gastrointestinal tract, or the human digestive system. A gastroenterology nurse is therefore a nurse who works within this medical field and works with gastroenterologists with medical conditions and problems having to do with the digestive system. Problems with one’s digestive system can be very serious and can cause patients to experience symptoms such as abdominal pain or internal bleeding. Such symptoms can be indicative of cancer.
Gastroenterology Nurse Job Description
Simply put, a gastroenterology nurse provides care for patients with known or suspected medical problems in their gastrointestinal tracts or who are undergoing procedures to treat such problems. They are also known as endoscopy nurses due to their experience in the assessment, planning and implementation of upper gastrointestinal and endoscopic procedures. They also work with computerized topography scans and x-ray technology to monitor and help diagnose their patients, and of course they keep patients informed and educated about their conditions and the treatments that they will need to undergo. A gastroenterology nurse may also be called in to assist gastroenterologists, surgeons, physicians and nutritionists if a situation calls for it.
Education or Certification Necessary
A gastroenterology nurse must become a registered nurse, a process that involves completing an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in nursing. This typically involves classroom and laboratory training as well as classes in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, pharmacology, nursing ethics, nursing philosophy and nutrition. All registered nurses must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination – Registered Nurse, or the NCLEX-RN. Gastroenterology nurses are also usually certified through the American Board of Certification for Gastroenterology Nurses. Nurses who wish to be certified by this board must have minimum experience in their field, and they must pass a written and practical exam. These licenses must be maintained throughout one’s career as a gastroenterology nurse.
Where Can a Gastroenterology Nurse Work?
Gastroenterology nurses often work closely with gastroenterology professionals either in a clinical setting or a hospital setting. They are often the ones who perform endoscopic procedures and keep patients informed of their conditions and necessary treatments. They can also work in a home care setting alongside nutritionists.
The average annual salary of a gastroenterology nurse as of December 2009 is $49,000. This salary often varies by location, employer, level of education and other factors. As with most nursing careers, the job outlook for gastroenterology nurses is excellent. Nursing is one of ten occupations projected to have the largest number of new job opportunities, and this includes gastroenterology nursing positions.
Because gastroenterology nurses must also be registered nurses, they are capable of holding many different jobs within the nursing field. They are capable of working in hospital settings or clinics as supervisors or as assistants to doctors and surgeons. Gastroenterology by definition is related to nutrition, so many gastroenterology nurses work alongside nutritionists. Overall, a position as a gastroenterology nurse is ideal to anyone interested in the field of gastroenterology because of the experience that it provides.