What is a Gastroenterology Nurse?

An endoscopy or gastroenterology nurse cares for patients with injuries, disorders, and diseases affecting the digestive tract.

These professionals handle various illnesses and disorders like food allergies, ulcers, reflux, diarrhea, and constipation.

Gastroenterology nurses also provide medical care to patients with more severe medical conditions.

It includes medical conditions such as rectal cancer, colon cancer, and ulcerative colitis.

This article explores what gastroenterology nurses do, where they work and how to become one.

What Do Gastroenterology Nurses Do?

Gastroenterology nurses perform various responsibilities to provide care to patients with gastrointestinal and digestive tract issues.

These healthcare professionals conduct diagnostic procedures and extract samples from patients to identify potential health issues.

They’ll also look at the patient’s medical records upon meeting with the patient.

They will also check the patient’s vital signs and adverse abdominal/stomach health care problems or symptoms.

In many situations, gastroenterology/endoscopy nurses must perform an endoscopy.

It involves inserting a small tube that contains a camera into a person’s bowels.

The purpose of performing an endoscopy is to diagnose potential gastroenterological disorders.

In addition to performing an endoscopy, these nurses perform other diagnostic tests to check for possible healthcare problems, such as barium enemas, ultrasounds, or x-rays.

Other job responsibilities include giving nutritional advice and helping patients consume medications.

In many cases, it’s common for an endoscopy nurse to assist a licensed nurse practitioner, doctor, or physician who specializes in gastroenterology.

Treating and caring for a patient needing endoscopy exams is a crucial part of patient care.

Ensuring that the patient is comfortable with the nurse and the procedure is essential for improving the patient’s health.

Before exam gastroenterology, nurses explain the different healthcare and procedural options available to them and make them aware of each option’s various risks and benefits.

It is common for gastroenterology nurses to assist physicians and other healthcare professionals with various surgical procedures in more extreme situations.

When this happens, gastroenterology nurses prepare patients to deal with possible lifelong gastrointestinal problems.

Gastroenterology nurses might advise patients on what they should and shouldn’t eat and how to manage the symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders.

Gastroenterology nurses specialize in dealing with gastrointestinal disorders.

However, these nurses can perform most basic diagnostic checks and procedures outside gastroenterology.

Gastroenterology nurses are essential for quality patient care.

Many patients have gastrointestinal disorders or serious illnesses that require check-ups and examinations to receive proper medical care.

It is essential for gastroenterology nurses to be good with the people they serve.

Many of the patients they help undergo several procedures, which can be nerve-wracking, especially for new patients.

Gastroenterology Nurse Duties:

  • Educate patients about their conditions
  • Offer dietary recommendations
  • Review medical histories
  • Collect specimen samples
  • Perform endoscopies
  • Utilize diagnostic equipment
  • Conduct screenings
  • Assist physicians with procedures

What Conditions do Gastroenterology Nurses Treat?

Gastroenterology nurses treat a broad assortment of gastrointestinal and digestive conditions.

It includes acid reflux, celiac disease, colon cancer, constipation, chron diseases, rectal cancer, and ulcerative colitis.

They also treat diarrhea, food allergies, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome and other related conditions.

Conditions Gastroenterology Nurses Treat:

  • Acid reflux
  • Celiac disease
  • Colon cancer
  • Constipation
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diarrhea
  • Food allergies
  • IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Rectal cancer
  • Ulcerative colitis

Where do Gastroenterology Nurses Work?

Gastroenterology nurses operate in healthcare settings requiring medical assistance for patients with digestive tract diseases, disorders, and injuries.

It includes hospitals, surgical units, private practices, community clinics, long-term care facilities, and specialty clinics.

Occupational Settings:

  • Hospitals
  • Surgical departments
  • Private practices
  • Community health clinics
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Specialty clinics

A gastroenterology nurse’s duties vary depending on their education, background, skill set, and their employer’s needs.

However, most work focuses on providing medical care, education, and support for gastrointestinal and digestive issues.

How to Become a Gastroenterology Nurse

There are numerous steps aspiring gastroenterology nurses must complete to obtain jobs in this profession.

It includes joining a nursing program, obtaining a degree, passing the NCLEX, acquiring experience, and getting certified.

1. Join a Nursing Program

The first step to becoming a gastroenterology nurse is to join a nursing program.

To join the program, students must pass several necessary nursing school prerequisite courses.

They must also maintain a good GPA to maximize their acceptance odds into the program.

The nursing school prerequisites take approximately 1 – 2 years to complete.

After completing the prerequisite courses, students may apply for the nursing program.

Some programs will allow students to apply one semester early to get a head start on the application process.

2. Get an ADN or BSN Degree

The next step to becoming a gastroenterology nurse is to get an ADN or BSN degree.

The ADN degree takes about 18 – 24 months to complete and provides a basic foundation of nursing.

It prepares students for roles in entry-level jobs and offers a fast route to begin working.

Those who pursue the ADN can quickly enter the field, gain work experience and earn a living.

Nevertheless, students who want to pursue advanced nursing careers and specializations will want to obtain a BSN.

The BSN degree takes roughly 36 – 48 months to complete and provides a more comprehensive nursing education.

As a result, registered nurses who hold a BSN have more career opportunities and typically earn more money.

Most institutions also prefer registered nurses with a BSN due to the comprehensive schooling students receive.

3. Pass the NCLEX-RN

After completing nursing school, students must pass the state-required NCLEX-RN.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) designs the NCLEX exam.

It tests the competencies of nursing graduates to ensure they’re properly prepared to become licensed registered nurses.

The NCLEX-RN exam is also mandatory to obtain licensure.

4. Obtain Work Experience

After finishing the NCLEX exam and obtaining licensure, it’s essential graduates obtain vital work experience.

Nurses will want to pursue work in the specialization of gastroenterology for at least two years to develop their knowledge.

It enables them to have a solid understanding of the gerontology field and prepares them to take the certification exam.

It’s also beneficial to take continuing education courses related to this discipline to further your knowledge and skill set.

5. Get Certified

After obtaining adequate work experience, registered nurses may want to obtain certification in this domain.

The American Board of Certification for Gastroenterology Nurses (ABCGN) provides the ABCGN certification exam.

It tests the nurse’s competencies in gastroenterology and ensures they properly understand the specialization.

As a result, obtaining certification enables gastroenterology nurses to demonstrate their expertise in the field.

It enables them to obtain various jobs in the discipline, earn higher incomes and take on additional responsibilities.

Certification is necessary to become a gerontology nurse.

However, it helps nurses understand the domain more thoroughly and enables them to provide a higher standard of care.

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