Endoscopy nurses work closely with physicians to ensure they have the information necessary to assess and diagnose gastroenterological and respiratory disorders. Endoscopies are surgical or medical procedures that involve the insertion of a fiber optic tube into the body, which is attached to a camera, giving a view of the lining of the intestines and other parts of the body. This imaging is used to assess and diagnose gastroenterological and respiratory disorders.
Nurses, who play a key role in endoscopy procedures, are typically responsible for planning patient care, providing instructions to the patient and information to their family, preparing the procedure room, administering IVs and other medication, ensuring patient comfort and safety, and advocating on behalf of the patient.
If you’re considering becoming an endoscopy nurse, this blog post outlines considerations you need to make, including the many advantages of selecting this nursing specialty, and answers the following questions: What is endoscopy nursing like? What is the role of an endoscopy nurse? And how much does an endoscopy nurse make?
The Advantages of Endoscopy Nursing
Learning and Using Transferable Skills
Many of the skills you’ll use day in and day out as an endoscopy nurse, such as sedating patients or operating machinery, can be applied to other medical procedures, such as imaging or care in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU). In addition, as an endoscopy nurse, you’ll tap into many of the skills you already have as a nurse, such as communicating with patients, advocating on their behalf, providing clear information to their family or friends, and ensuring patients are comfortable and pain-free.
Working in a Team Setting
As an endoscopy nurse, you’ll work with a team of physicians, technicians, and other healthcare providers to ensure the success of the endoscopy procedure. In addition, some endoscopy nurses work with a second nurse at all times and split responsibilities with them. As one nurse explains:
“In the procedure room, there are two nurses. One stands beside the Gastroenterologist and is responsible for operating forceps and snares as well as applying abdominal pressure to allow the endoscope to travel through the colon. The second nurse is responsible for applying monitoring equipment, operating larger equipment (diathermy machine) as well as collecting and recording specimens. Oh, and don’t forget the mounds of paperwork.” — Tom Johnson, The Nurse Break
If you enjoy working in team settings, endoscopy nursing provides an environment where you can collaborate with other healthcare professionals. You’ll certainly be sharing responsibilities and learning from them—and your shifts may even seem to pass by quicker.
Make an Excellent Salary
Endoscopy nurses, who are registered nurses (RNs), make $82,750 annually on average, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is $39.78 per hour. This rate will, of course, vary based on several factors, including a nurse’s location. For example, while the average RN in California makes $124,000, the average registered nurse in Pennsylvania earns an annual income of $76,000.
As an endoscopy nurse, you’ll learn the ins and outs of using certain machinery necessary during endoscopic procedures. Many hospitals and medical clinics around the world rely on the same machines and tools, which means you can easily relocate to another state, or even another country, provided you have the necessary certifications. As you settle into your new workplace, you’ll experience a manageable learning curve.
High Job Security
Endoscopy nursing isn’t going anywhere—this isn’t an aspect of nursing that can be replaced by medical robots. At the end of the day, hospitals and clinics need nurses not only to operate machines and work with procedural and surgical tools but to provide individualized care and support to patients. Your sense of empathy and compassion and your ability to connect with patients and comfort them during stressful procedures can never be automated.
The Disadvantages of Endoscopy Nursing
While there are numerous advantages to becoming an endoscopy nurse, the reality is that there are some unpleasant factors to consider as well, as with every nursing specialty. When making your decision, consider the following points:
- Long-term training process: Becoming an endoscopy nurse involves formal education in nursing, acquiring a registered nursing license, and additional endoscopy certification. If you’re in it for the long haul, it’s worth it, but ensure you’re confident with your decision before moving forward.
- Exposure to pathogens, radiation, and fluoroscopy. Exposure to pathogens may get you or your loved ones sick. While your exposure to radiation will be limited as an endoscopy nurse, it’s important to understand the effects of radiation and be well-informed before choosing this specialty.
- Emotionally draining. Due to the fast-paced work environment involving medical emergencies, being an endoscopy nurse may be emotionally taxing, which may lead to burnout. However, some nurses say that because endoscopy nurses interact with patients briefly, it can be less emotionally taxing than other nursing specialties.
- Dealing with foul stenches. Another con to endoscopy nursing is the smells “of [gastrointestinal] bleed and the patients whose bowel prep didn’t go so well,” says nurse Rachel Lyn. “Nursing generally involves undesirable smells but [endosopy] has a disproportionate amount of unpleasant smells... There is something particularly horrible about the smell of a GI bleed... It really is just the worst.” While nurses aren’t typically squeamish, this may be an important consideration.