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.
The Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA) is dedicated to the safe and effective practice of gastroenterology and endoscopy nursing and supports GI nursing through education, research, advocacy and collabration. Most GI nurses have experience in medical/surgical nursing before specializing in gastroenterology nursing. SGNA recommends at least one year of medical/surgerical experience prior to pursuing gastroenterology nursing. GI nurses are licensed by their state of practice and receive specialty on-the-job training from endoscopists. Some skills that aide the GI nurse in being successful are strong communication, interpersonal and professionalism.
Want to become involved in GI nursing? You will need an advanced nursing degree, RN to BSN degree, or LPN to BSN degree. Or you can learn more about these programs from the University of Phoenix:
» Bachelor of Science in Nursing
» Master of Science in Nursing