What Kind of Nurse Should You Be? Check Out the Growing Field of Gastroenterology

March 17, 2021 •

Gastroenterology nursing may not seem glamorous, but it is incredibly fascinating. In the United States alone, approximately 60 to 70 million people are affected by digestive diseases. Worldwide in 2018, there were an estimated 4.8 million new cases of gastrointestinal (GI) cancers and 3.4 million related deaths.

Yes, there is an enormous need for GI nurses. If you are a veteran nurse thinking about broadening your horizons with a new career move or if you’re a newbie nurse looking for a fascinating field in nursing that is constantly evolving, GI nursing offers innovative opportunities and much more.

So, What is GI Nursing?

The digestive tract is typically considered the second brain. It’s that superhighway in your body that starts from your mouth and ends in your anus. GI nurses are registered nurses (RN) who provide care for patients with gastric diseases which include the stomach, esophagus and or bowel.

GI nurses can work in a variety of locations which include hospitals, clinic settings, surgical centers, and long-term health facilities performing and assisting in procedures as well as administering treatments. You can also find GI nurses working in community health clinics alongside nutritionists offering education.

GI Nurses assist in pre and postoperative care. They are responsible for coordinating care for patients undergoing various GI procedures. The most common procedures and techniques you can find GI nurses assisting in are colonoscopies and endoscopies which need conscious sedation.

To be a GI nurse, you need either an associate in nursing degree (ADN) or bachelor’s in nursing degree (BSN). They can see a variety of patient populations which include pediatrics to gerontology.

Common GI Conditions That GI Nurses Must Be Familiar with Include:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Food Allergies
  • Constipation
  • Celiac Disease
  • Acid Reflux
  • Cancers of the digestive tract:
      • Liver
      • Small Intestine
      • Large Intestine
      • Rectum
      • Gallbladder
      • Stomach
      • Esophagus
      • Pancreas

What Are The Many Talents of GI Nurses?

Some of the talents and roles of GI nurses include:

  • Pre and post procedure education
  • Endoscopy and colonoscopy assistance
  • Collaborating with physicians, nutritionists, and other ancillary staff to ensure the patients’ health needs are met
  • Patient education on diet and medication regimens
  • Clean and safe environment maintenance during GI procedures
  • Conscious sedation: monitoring, administering and maintenance during procedure
  • Patient pain control and maintenance
  • Discharge of patients and ensuring that they are clinically stable

GI Nursing Board Certification

GI nursing is a specialty branch of nursing. The American Board of Certified Gastroenterology nursing offers a certification program. After working as a GI nurse for 2 years, nurses must demonstrate clinical competence, procedural skills along with moral and ethical behaviors as evidenced in the clinical setting. A valid, unrestricted and unchallenged license in nursing is also required in order to be certified. A verification of GI nurse qualifications is also required from 2 practitioners showing clinical competency before sitting for the GI board certification exam. The certification renewal requirement is every 5 years.

The Roles of GI Nurses Are Forever Expanding

Over the last ten years, the GI nurse’s role has been growing and expanding to offer a broader scope of practice with tasks and procedures that were once previously performed by physicians. These include nurse involvement in diagnostic endoscopy and follow up of patients with chronic GI conditions.

Nurse Educators/ GI Nurse Coach

One of the crucial roles of the GI nurse is that of nurse educator. GI nurses are task oriented and have excellent customer service skills. They are able to educate patients and coach them through their GI disease process to achieve better health.

Fecal Microbiota Transplantation

An experimental therapy known as fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) used for the treatment of Clostridium difficile infection can be performed by GI nurses. The fecal transplant is usually performed through a colonoscopy, nasogastric tube, gastrostomy tubes or with a retention enema. The colonoscope is advanced through the entire colon during the colonoscopy procedure. When the colonoscope is withdrawn, the donor stool is delivered through the colonoscopy to the colon.

This a new and growing arena for GI nurses. GI nurses perform the procedure as well as offer education to patients and families which include donor screening, patient assessment before during and after treatment, routes of administration and positioning discharge and follow up evaluation.

Show Me the Money

GI nurses salaries can vary from state to state. On average according to payscale.com, the annual salary for a certified GI nurse is $79,284 to $100,000, based on their role (staff RN, nurse manager, clinical director). An endoscopy nurse makes approximately $81,351 per year.

Networking the GI Nurse Way

Getting involved with GI nurse organizations is a great way to network, earn CE’s and keep your GI nursing skills sharp. Some of these organizations include:

Once you’ve worked hard to earn your GI nursing degree and board certification, it’s important to ensure your success and keep yourself and your career safe with professional liability insurance. Your employer will likely have a policy that partially covers you, but it’s always a good idea to have your own professional liability policy to ensure your own interests are considered within a malpractice case.

NOW Insurance has over 20 years’ experience providing insurance and processing claims for nurses and nurse practitioners. We provide simple, fast and affordable insurance, and experts to walk you through every step of a claim if one arises. Our insurance is tailored to your unique situation, so you pay for exactly the amount of insurance you need.

Learn more about our insurance for nurses and get a quick quote in under 3 minutes from our online application.

Related Articles:

What Malpractice Risks Do GI Nurses Face?

Risks of Abbreviations in Nurse Charting

Charting By Exception: Errors by Omission or the Efficient New Norm?

How to Become an IV Nurse

Nurses and The Good Samaritan Law

Coverage type