How to Become a Gastroenterology Nurse

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Gastroenterology is a branch of medicine that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of conditions and disease related to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Gastroenterology nurses are registered nurses that specialize in providing care to patients with a variety of conditions related to the gastrointestinal tract and digestive system.

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What does a gastroenterology nurse do?

Gastroenterology nurses provide care and treatment to patients suffering from intestinal and digestive conditions such as abdominal bleeding, acid reflux disease, ulcers, and cancer. They examine patients, obtain medical history, and provide the necessary care. They often prepare patients for diagnostic and treatment procedures and provide follow-up care after procedures. They also assist physicians in determining a diagnosis and with many different procedures, and some may independently perform procedures. Some gastroenterology nurses assist physicians with specialized procedures including endoscopies and surgery. Gastroenterology nurses are often responsible for maintaining and cleaning specialized equipment. They typically work closely with many GI healthcare professionals.

What kind of training does a gastroenterology nurse need?

Gastroenterology nurses must become registered nurses by completing a diploma, associate degree, or bachelor degree program in nursing. All nursing programs provide classroom and laboratory training and supervised clinical experiences. Prospective registered nurses typically complete courses in anatomy and physiology, microbiology, pharmacology, nursing ethics, nursing philosophy, nutrition, and human growth and development. All registered nurses must be licensed by passing the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). Most gastroenterology nurses also become certified from the American Board of Certification for Gastroenterology Nurses or other certifying organization. Certification requirements include minimum experience and passing a written and practical examination. Gastroenterology nurses must complete regular continuing education to maintain their licenses and certifications.

What are the prospects for a career as a gastroenterology nurse?

Employment of all registered nurses is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 23% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growing and aging population and increased need for gastroenterology care will drive job growth for gastroenterology nurses.

Job prospects are expected to be excellent especially for gastroenterology nurses with extensive experience. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace gastroenterology nurses that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do gastroenterology nurses make?

As of December 2009, the average annual salary for gastroenterology nurses is $49,000; average annual gastroenterology nurse salaries vary by location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a gastroenterology nurse is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in gastroenterology and desire to provide care to a variety of patients. Gastroenterology nurses must have a solid understanding of a variety of conditions related to the gastrointestinal tract and many different treatment options. Patience, determination, detail orientation, and good problem solving skills are necessary characteristics. Gastroenterology nurses must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and ability to help patients feel at ease. They must be able to effectively work as part of a team.

Joshua T Osborne

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