Gastroenterology Nurse

The gastroenterology nurse is a nursing specialty in high demand. This nursing specialty deals with disorders and diseases of the gastrointestinal system. This might include cancer of the stomach or intestines, bleeding ulcers, chronic irritable bowel syndrome and more.  Nurses in this specialty may find employment in hospitals, clinics, and private practice. Jobs for the endoscopy nurse which require supervisory skills or administrative skills will normally require an advanced degree nurse specialist.

Gastroenterology Nurse Job Description & Scope of Practice

The gastroenterology nurse may also be called an endoscopy nurse and assists the physician and surgical team during this diagnostic procedure. The GI nurse may also educate patients in the management of chronic gastro-intestinal conditions including diet and stress management.  Gastroenterology nurses work with a wide variety of age groups and patient demographics. This means the nurse must thoroughly their field and in a single day may train a caregiver to clean a feeding tube for a loved one, and then see a teen learning to manage irritable bowel syndrome.

Gastroenterology nurse practitioners may have greater latitude in their job duties and initiate testing procedures as well as perform some non-invasive non surgical procedures. The gastroenterology nurse may be required to monitor patients during procedures and preparing nursing plans of care during inpatient stays as well as providing for information and instruction in necessary home care techniques to the patient.

In some settings the Endoscopy nurse assists with what are normally considered surgical procedures.

How to Become a Gastroenterology Nurse

The role of a gastroenterology nurse is highly demanding and requires extensive knowledge of the human digestive system. Many hospitals and clinics are beginning to require at least a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing or a Nurse Practitioner to fill these highly responsible and technologically demanding positions. Continuing education is necessary for the nurse dealing with new breakthroughs and constantly improving technology.

The National Nursing Standards board is considering making a 4 year RN degree a minimum for certification because of the high level of expertise required.  To become a Certified Gastrointestinal RN requires an intensive examination testing the nurse’s knowledge and skills in the field.

Gastroenterology Nurse Education Requirements, Certification, and Schooling Programs

  • An RN License is required. The RN may be have a 2 year Associate Degree in Nursing but many clinics, hospitals and diagnostic centers require at least a Bachelor Degree in Nursing or a Master Degree in Nursing. Some schools offer Endoscopy Nursing Bachelor Degrees that can prepare a nurse for this challenging specialty.
  • Certification as a Gastroenterology nurse is not required by most institutions but can establish a nurse’s competence in their field and is especially valuable for new nursing graduates and for those wanting better opportunities and security in their Gastroenterology nursing career.  To become a Certified Gastroenterology Specialty Nurse (CGSN), you will need to pass and examination under the supervision of the Certifying Board of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (CBGNA).The Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA) recommends individuals working in the field to become certified through the American Board of Certification for Gastroenterology Nurses (ABCGN). Certified nurses receive the designation of Certified Gastroenterologist Registered Nurse (CGRN) after completing an examination. In order sit for the exam, applicants must have experience working in the gastroenterology field and 4,000 hours of endoscopy experience. The exam is comprised of 175 multiple-choice questions based on the full range of knowledge possessed by gastroenterology nurses. Certification is not required. However, more career opportunities are open for CGRNs.

 Gastroenterology Nurse Salary and Career Outlook

The nursing field is predicted to have a very good outlook with an average growth of 21% in jobs for registered nurses over the next 8 years. Nurses with specializations such as the endoscopy nurse are in especially high demand.

The average salary of an RN in the US is $59,000 a year. The salary for a gastroenterology nurse with an advanced degree such as a gastroenterology nurse practitioner can expect to make more per year.