Gastroenterology nurses have their standard RN certification along with an associates or bachelors degree of science in nursing. These nurses help diagnose and treat problems with the gastrointestinal tract and digestive system such as the esophagus, stomach, intestines, colon, and rectum. They also assist gastroenterology physicians in surgery when the situation warrants.
Some of the more common problems of the GI tract that Gastroenterology nurses will help treat are: Appendicitis, Bowel Obstruction, Celiac Disease, Constipation, Crohn’s Disease, Diarrhea, Diverticulosis, Diverticulitis, Gallstones, Hemorrhoids, Lactose Intolerance, Peptic Ulcer Disease, Heartburn/GERD, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Ulcerative Colitis.
GI nurses are also known as endoscopy nurses due to their experience in assessing, planning and implementation of upper gastrointestinal and endoscopic procedures.
One of the common ailments today that older adults wind up seeing a gastroenterology nurse at some point is a condition known as Diverticulosis, and in severe cases where infection sets in as a result, Diverticulitis. This is a condition in the colon where small pockets form in the colon and bodily waste collects in those pockets and the pockets eventually become inflamed and infected causing severe pain. This condition warrants a hospital stay and a lot of antibiotics. In some cases these infected pockets can rupture allowing bodily waste to enter into the body which requires surgery and if a ruptured colon pocket is not treated in time, can lead to death. You’ll also get to meet a GI nurse if you have to have a colonoscopy.
Some of the common gastrointestinal problems that GI nurses will face and treat in the scope of their duties are ulcers, dyspepsia, carcinoma and dysphagia. These conditions can and often cause patients to experience mild to severe abdominal pain, internal bleeding and can even lead to cancer in some cases.
Gastroenterology Nurses work with and implement a variety of medical equipment under the direction of a physician. Some of the equipment that these nurses use on a daily basis are; computerized topography scans such as ultrasound, gastroscope which is used to perform an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD/OGD), Duodenoscope which is used to perform an ERCP procedure, Enteroscope which is used to perform push enteroscopy, a Colonoscope which is used to perform a colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscope which is used to perform a flexible sigmoidoscopy, a rigid sigmoidoscope which is used to perform rigid sigmoidoscopy, ultrasound endoscope which is used to perform an endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) procedure, a video capsule which is used to perform video capsule enteroscopy, endoscopy snare which is used to perform polypectomy and endoscopic foreign body removal, Band ligator which is used to perform variceal band ligation, using a Sengstaken-Blakemore tube which is used in the management of bleeding esophageal varices, a Balloon dilator which is used to perform esophageal balloon dilatation, pyloric dilatation or ileocolonic dilatation, a Savary-Gilliard dilator which is used to perform esophageal bougie dilatation, a device known as a Heater probe which is used to perform endoscopic heater probe thermocoagulation of bleeding blood vessels, an APC unit which is used to perform endoscopic Argon plasma coagulation, a PEG tube which is used to perform percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy, and a Menghini needle or Tru-Cut needle which is used to perform a percutaneous liver biopsy.
So as you can see, GI nurses use and or assist physicians using a wide variety of medical equipment specific and unique to their profession. Nurse practitioners also work in this specialty and often perform the above procedures with regular GI Nurses under their charge.
To become a gastroenterology / endoscopy nurse you must first enroll in and graduate from basic nursing school with an associates or bachelors degree. Then after obtaining their nursing degree, registered nurses who wish to gain certification in gastroenterology, must work in a gastroenterology setting full time for at least two years with a minimum of 2,000 hours, or the part-time equivalent of 4000 hours in a five-year period. In addition to the above requirements, nurses will need to provide the endorsement of at least two gastroenterology practitioners or physicians in order to take the certification exam.
Gastroenterology nurses are certificated from the American Board of Certification for Gastroenterology Nurses (ABCGN) and the required certification exam is called the Certified Gastroenterology Registered Nurse exam (CGRN).
The salary for Gastroenterology / Endoscopy nurses vary on a number of factors but as a guide for full time GI nurses, the salary ranges are from $55,000.00 to $99,000.00 per year with a median average of $80,000.00. If you are tired of being a nurse because of your current specialty, it may be worth it for you to investigate becoming a GI nurse.
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