How to Become a Radiology Nurse

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Radiology is a medical specialty that focuses the study and application of a variety of imaging technologies to diagnose and treat many different conditions. Radiology nurses are registered nurses that provide care to patients that are undergoing many different diagnostic radiation procedures.

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What does a radiology nurse do?

Radiology nurses care for patients that go through a variety of radiation procedures such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasounds, and radiation therapy for cancerous conditions. They are responsible for performing patient assessments, monitoring vital signs, recording observations, and managing the recovery of patients after procedures. The prepare patients for procedures by providing education to help them understand the process and what to expect. They also help radiologists during procedures and monitor patients. Radiology nurses provide emotional care to patients and work with them and their families to make sure the essential medical needs are properly met. Many radiology nurses specialize in a certain area such as radiation therapy, diagnostic radiology, and chemotherapy.

What kind of training does a radiology nurse need?

Radiology nurses must become registered nurses by completing a diploma, associate degree, and bachelor degree program in nursing. All nursing programs provide intensive classroom and laboratory instruction and supervised clinical experiences. Many prospective radiology nurses complete radiology specialty programs that typically take about a year after completion of the nursing program. All registered nurses must become licensed by passing the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). Most radiology nurses also gain the Certified Radiology Nurse (CRN) designation from the American Association of Radiology Nurses. Certification requirements include minimum radiology related experience and passing a written and practical examination. Radiology nurses must complete regular continuing education to maintain their licenses and certifications and stay abreast on advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a radiology 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 radiology services will drive job growth of radiology nurses.

Job prospects are expected to be excellent especially for radiology nurses with professional certifications and extensive experience. Many job openings will stem from the need replace radiology nurses that retire, transfer, or leave the profession for other reasons.

How much do radiology nurses make?

As of December 2009, the average annual salary for radiology nurses is $56,000; average annual radiology nurse salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a radiology nurse is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in radiology and providing care to many different patients. Radiology nurses must have a solid understanding of radiology practices and the ability to help patients feel at ease when undergoing procedures. Patience, determination, critical thinking, and good problem solving are essential characteristics. Radiology nurses must have excellent communication and the ability to work as part of a team.

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