Excellent Opportunities in General GI and Endoscopy Nursing
LPNs and RNs Experienced in Med-Surg
Gastroenterology nursing professionals may be licensed practical nurses (LPN) with a diploma under their belts or RNs with advanced degrees. Nurses in the GI specialty work closely with patients that have active gastrointestinal conditions and problems, those predisposed to them, or those that have had surgical procedures to address GI issues.
Nurses that specialize in GI nursing work have more often than not worked in a medical/surgical hospital environment. Hospitals care for many GI patients, both those with recurring problems and those undergoing surgery. Nurses that wish to ultimately specialize in gastroenterology may either choose industry certifications or to advance educational degrees along with specific certification.
Nurses play a critical role in the initial assessment of GI patients in all patient care settings, including Emergency Departments. They are required to collaborate with physicians and other diagnostic staff in the work-up of a patient’s condition, and to offer education to patients as part of a follow-up treatment. GI nurses make recommendations for lifestyle changes and develop long-term care plans when necessary.
What is Gastroenterology?
The gastroenterology medical specialty focuses on diseases and conditions of the intestines, and other organs, such as the liver and pancreas. Scope of practice includes diagnosis, interpretation of tests, and treatment, including surgery and post-operative care. GI physicians and associated healthcare professionals regularly address cancer, infections, and other afflictions commonly associated with the GI tract. Common problems include heartburn, Crohn’s Disease, gallstones, ulcers, gastritis, and liver cirrhosis.
General GI Nurse
Nurses with LPN and RN licenses are eligible to work in a GI specialty. However, nurses interested in education, research and more advanced nursing positions are expected to earn Masters in Nursing degrees. Nurses enrolled in Advanced Practice degrees, especially Clinical Nurse Specialists, may have the option to specialize in Gastroenterology Nursing. Nurse Practitioners may choose to earn a credential in general gastroenterology nursing, but their career focus is more expansive than just GI medicine.
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Specialized Endoscopy Nurses
Endoscopy Nurses specialize in a particularly interesting facet of gastroenterology. Endoscopies are very common diagnostic tests that allow physicians to “see” inside a patient’s upper and/or lower GI tract. Nurses with advanced training in endoscopy lab procedure may be responsible for almost all aspects of the patient’s visit save for the actual endoscopic test. Even then most are available to help physicians and provide support for patients.
Some nursing schools provide special programs just for Endoscopy Nursing.
Training Courses & Credentials
Nurses that have worked in the general GI field may be eligible to apply for one of the certifications mandated by the American Board of Certification for Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates, depending on nursing licensure. Certified Gastroenterology Registered Nurse and Certified Gastroenterology Nurse are designed for RNs and LPNs, respectively. Certifications cover both those nurses working in general GI settings as well as those specialized in endoscopy nursing.
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