What Is the Role of a Gastroenterology Nurse?

gastro nurse at the bedside of a patient

An estimated sixty to seventy million Americans experience digestive disorders, leading to nearly 250,000 deaths yearly, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Their diagnosis and treatment are in the hands of medical professional teams, which include gastroenterology nurses. 

In this blog post, we’ll cover the role of a gastroenterology nurse—or endoscopy nurse—during endoscopic procedures, including their day-to-day responsibilities, the pros and cons of the job, and how to become a gastroenterology nurse. 

What Is a Gastroenterology Nurse?

A gastroenterology nurse is a nursing professional who typically works under a gastroenterologist, assisting in diagnosing and treating diseases, disorders, and injuries in patients’ gastrointestinal systems or digestive tracts. Typical issues that gastroenterology nurses support in diagnosing and treating include constipation, diarrhea, reflux, ulcers, food allergies, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, colon cancer, and rectal cancer. 

Gastroenterology nurses work in various settings, including hospitals, private specialists’ offices, clinics, long-term care facilities, nursing homes, and home health services.

What Is the Role of a Gastro Nurse?

On a daily basis, gastroenterology nurses are typically engaged in the following tasks: 

  • Recording and reviewing patients’ medical history, symptoms, and vital signs
  • Educating patients about their conditions and explaining different treatment plans, options, risks, and benefits
  • Preparing patients for diagnosis or treatment, which includes collecting samples from diagnostic procedures such as x-rays, ultrasounds, and barium enemas
  • Providing nutrition advice, particularly for long-term care gastroenterology issues
  • Administering medications, including preoperative medications, through injections or IVs and assisting physicians with the administration of anesthesia
  • Providing postoperative care, which includes monitoring patients for post-operative complications 

How to Become a Gastroenterology Nurse

To become a gastroenterology nurse, you’ll first need to get an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN), which can take you as little as two years, or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), which will take four years to complete. Once you’ve completed the program and you pass the NCLEX-RN, you’ll need to work as a registered nurse in gastroenterology for an additional two years. Finally, you may complete an optional Certified Gastroenterology Specialty Nurse exam offered through the American Board of Certification for Gastroenterology Nurses. Those who receive the certification can use the designation “CGRN” after their names and must maintain it by re-certifying every five years. 

Final Thoughts on the Role of a Gastroenterology Nurse

If you’re interested in learning more about gastroenterology nursing, read Nursa’s ultimate guide on endoscopy nursing. The guide contains relevant information on education requirements, average salaries, and more. It is part of Nursa’s complete guides to nursing specialties, which provide you with everything you need to know about a range of nursing specialties, so you can choose a nursing specialty you love.

Read More About this specialty

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