Gastroenterology nurses provide care for patients with gastrointestinal diseases of the stomach, esophagus or bowel. Conditions treated may include ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer and abdominal injuries. Gastroenterology nurses may work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, outpatient or inpatient endoscopy suites or doctor’s offices. These specialized nurses may do any number of tasks including taking patient medical histories, telephone triage, patient education and maintenance on tools used for procedures.
A certified gastroenterology registered nurse’s work focuses on caring for patients as they undergo an endoscopy or colonoscopy. These nurses assess and prepare patients for their procedure. Registered nurses in this capacity might be responsible for administering medication before the treatment, and must monitor a patient’s vital signs while the physician performs the endoscopy or colonoscopy. Following the procedure, certified gastroenterology registered nurses must monitor the patient for any side effects resulting from the procedure or medication administered during it.
The average salary for certified gastroenterology registered nurses is $67,000 per year, but actual salaries vary widely according to location and education.
Certified Gastroenterology Registered Nurse Education
Curriculum and Core Classes
The first step to becoming a gastroenterology nurse is to obtain an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing. The current trend is shifting to the necessity for bachelor-prepared registered nurses as recommended by several professional nursing organizations. After completion of the nursing program, the nurse will need to successfully complete the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). There is not a graduate program for gastroenterology, only advanced certifications after the nurse has worked in the field for a specific length of time. A nurse may also choose an adult, family or acute care nurse practitioner program and then work in gastroenterology after graduation.
Nurses choosing to certify should prepare for the Certified Gastroenterology Registered Nurse (CGRN) exam. Certification exams are an excellent way for the RN to demonstrate his or her commitment to a specific area of practice and dedication to continuing education and improvement in the field. The exam is offered by the American Board of Certification of Gastroenterology Nurses (ABCGN). Comprised of 150 questions, the test is offered twice yearly and includes questions on topics such as professional responsibilities and standards, general nursing care, gastroenterological procedures, and patient care interventions. This exam may only be taken after a nurse has worked in a gastroenterology setting full time for two years, or the part-time equivalent of 4000 hours in a five-year period. The nurse will also need to provide the endorsement of two gastroenterology practitioners. Nurses must renew their certification every five years by meeting the requirements for continuing education and paying a set fee.
RNs who have completed either a two or four year degree must work at least two years (or approximately 2,000 hours) in the gastroenterology field to meet testing eligibility requirements. Upon certification, the registered nurse must maintain credentials by retaking the exam every five years or completing 100 hours of continuing education. Proof of education must be maintained and the candidate must produce documentation of completion of the required hours. These components may vary for each renewal period and should be monitored closely for changes announced by the ABCGN.
American Board of Certification for Gastroenterology Nurses (ABCGN)
Type of Certification: Certified Gastroenterology Registered Nurse (CGRN)
Eligibility Requirements: To qualify for ABCGN examination, candidates must have two years full-time or equivalent part-time experience in clinical, supervisory, administrative, educational or research gastroenterology and gastroenterology endoscopy practice during the past five years. Two gastroenterology practitioners, physicians, supervisors, or human resource specialists must verify this experience.
Certification Process: Candidates may apply online. If applying online, the candidate must upload a copy of their nursing license. Application deadlines, test dates and the location of testing centers can be found online at ABCGN’s website.
Fees: $385 for non-members of the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA)
Renewal Process: CGRN certification is valid for five years. Renewal applicants can re-certify through re-testing or contact hours. The process can be completed online or via mail with the paper application.
Learn about other advanced practice nursing specialties.