Gastroenterology nursing, or GI nursing, is a field within the profession of nursing which specializes in the care for patients with suspected or known gastrointestional problems. These patients need GI nursing when undergoing diagnostic or therapeutic treatments and procedures. Gastroenterology nursing is practiced in a variety of settings, including hospital, physician offices, inpatient and outpatient endoscopy departments and ambulatory endoscopy centers. GI nursing involves diagnosing, planning, implementing, supervising and evaluating the care for patients undergoing such treatments and procedures.
GI nursing is most closely associated with endoscopic procedures. During an endoscopy, the patient's digestive track or the lungs and airways are directly visualized with a flexible, tube-shaped, fiber-optic video instrument. The GI nurse is usually part of a multidisciplinary team that cares for the endoscopic patient. Most importantly, the GI nurse supports, prepares and cares for the patient who transmitted to a video monitor, allowing for more accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Other roles of a gastroenterology nurse vary and depend upon the levels of education, licensure and experience obtained by the nurse. GI nurse roles can include performing screenings, assisting a physician in endoscopic procedures, managing cases and education. GI nurses also must operate, clean and maintain specialized equipment.
Gastroenterology nurses specialize in providing care for patients with gastrointestinal disorders. This can include chronic illness or injury of the intestinal or digestive systems. Illnesses they treat could be cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, abdominal bleeding, or acid reflux, to name a few examples. Gastroenterology nurses can work in inpatient or outpatient departments in hospitals, in ambulatory endoscopy centers, or in private practices.
Gasteroenterology nurse duties vary based on their training and the extent of their nursing education, but can include cleaning equipment, performing screenings, taking medical histories, checking vital signs, aiding the physician in making diagnoses and treating, or preparing a patient for surgery or procedures. Some nurses assist in endoscopies, which is a procedure that enables the health care provider to look inside the gastrointestinal tract by using a tube equipped with a tiny camera that takes pictures. Some gastroenterology nurses might also work on case management for these patients. Educating patients about their illness and how they can manage it at home is another important part of the gastroenterology nurse job.
Nursing as a profession promises fantastic growth as the healthcare sector strives to meet the needs of the expanding aging population and as more and more nurses move toward retirement age. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects nursing to be one of the fastest growing professions, a trend that will continue at least through the year 2016. Specialized nursing positions like this one will be even more in demand, due to the required additional training and education. A gastroenterology nurse practitioner with a master's degree can make $71,849-$97,423, according to payscale.com. The average salary of a gastroenterology nurse with a bachelor's degree is $49,000. Salary can of course vary greatly based on employer, experience, geographic location, and degree. If you are interested in pursuing a specialized nursing field, gastroenterology nursing holds promise in growth, salary, and personal reward.
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