An endoscopy nurse is a position available to Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), as well as Registered Nurses. Therefore, the minimum requirements of the position are the LPN or RN degree. The service and care provided will vary from institution to institution, or employer to employers. However, the basic functions of the endoscopy nurse include providing support services for surgeons and physicians during any process involving endoscopy. Keefe (n.d.) describes the position as providing care to patients "with actual or potential problems involving the gastrointestinal (GI) tract during specialized procedures performed with lighted, flexible instruments known as endoscopes," (p. 1). Patient populations are diverse, because endoscopy procedures are performed in pediatric as well geriatric applications and everything in between. Therefore, the endoscopy nurse works in a diverse health care environment and with a diverse patient population. The endoscopy nurse is intimately familiar with infection control methods, equipment, standard operating procedures, and best practices rooted in evidence.
II. Education and Certification
"According to the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA), many endoscopy nurses begin their practice in a hospital setting, caring for a defined patient population on a medical-surgical, pediatric, or critical care unit," (cited by Keefe, n.d.). However, there are clear-cut educational and certification requirements for becoming an endoscopy nurse. Educational requirements for the profession/occupation include a minimum of an associate degree in nursing (AND), but a baccalaureate degree in nursing (BSN) may be preferred. NCLEX certification will help the nurse achieve Registered Nurse (RN) status for added responsibility, leadership opportunities, and salary increases. A variety of educational institutions will offer endoscopy as an area of specialization within their core nursing department. The length of time it takes to complete the endoscopy nursing specialty program will vary, depending on whether the nurse already possesses a degree such as an AND, a NSN, or an RN degree. The minimum amount of education required will be two years for the associate degree program, plus an additional amount of time spent training for the area of specialization. The Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA) offers a comprehensive training course specializing in all areas of gastroenterology, which covers endoscopy. This accredited institution offers nurses the option of distance learning for the area of specialization. SGNA also offers a nurse fellows program and a scholars program, as well as annual courses for continuing education and professional development.
Jobs are readily available in the field of endoscopy nursing. The Website CareerBuilder.com, for example, lists 322 jobs in the field of endoscopy nursing specifically ("Endoscopy Jobs," 2012). These positions are located all over the country, in different types of health care institutions. In the state of Florida, there are five endoscopy nursing positions currently open, and four of those are located in South Florida ("Endoscopy Jobs," 2012).
The CareerBuilder.com website is one of many offering information for job seekers. On SimplyHired.com, a search for endoscopy nursing positions in the Miami-Dade and Broward County areas yielded 78 hits. There are positions available at Baptist and the Coral Gables Hospital, among other places. These positions vary in terms of the qualifications they expect. Some are positions for Registered Nurses alone, whereas others are for endoscopy technicians. The technician positions tend to be per diem roles with little room for advancement, but the RN positions are more lucrative and offer greater opportunities for advancement within the organization in terms of becoming a manager or leader.
According to Kaufman (2011), the job outlook for endoscopy nurses is bright because historically, endoscopy nurse vacancies reflect total nurse vacancies. "Endoscopy registered nurses are among the specialty caregivers to benefit from historic demand," (Kaufman, 2011). There are, therefore, "expect excellent career prospects" for endoscopy nurses (Kaufman, 2011). Nursing in general has a positive job outlook with rapid growth, but specializations like endoscopy are even in greater demand. Job environments include all health care settings, but the largest rate of growth for endoscopy and other nurses are private practices (Kaufman, 2011).
IV. Professional Activities
The Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA) is the primary national professional organization for this field. Registered Nurses and Licensed Vocational/Practical Nurses can pay $125 annually or $235 bi-annually for membership. An alternative option is $205 for an 18-month membership. There is no express option for a student membership. However, the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA) offers opportunities for Assistive Personnel (e.g., technicians, technologists, assistants) involved in or associated with gastroenterology and/or endoscopy nursing practice to pay $95 per year or $180 for two years of membership. Similar packages are available for non-voting affiliate members including physicians, and non-voting, non-practicing memberships for $60 per year, and $120 for two years. Students who are not yet certified practitioners can become a non-voting, non-practicing member to start networking for their career. The SGNA does offer a range of options for continuing education, which is expected because of the changing nature of endoscopy technology and technique. Continuing education units are not, however, specified by CEU code on the SGNA website. An annual convention from SGNA offers the best option for networking and professional development.
The state of Florida also has its own gastroenterology society, covering needs of endoscopy nurse professionals. Additionally, the Mayo Clinic offers an advanced endoscopy fellowship in Florida, which is a one-year continuing education fellowship program (Advanced Endoscopy Fellowship, Florida, 2012). It does not offer its own accreditation and is geared mainly for physicians but it shows how important the field of endoscopy is to health care in general.
V. Conclusion / Reflection
As a student at Miami-Dade Community College, I have my eyes set on an advanced nursing degree. I see a lot of promise in the profession of nursing in general. When investigating my options for how to apply the nursing degree to the professional world, it became clear that an area of specialization that is in high demand such as endoscopy would be ideal for my needs. I have the ability to focus, and would appreciate the steady workplace environment that endoscopy nursing has to offer. Moreover, endoscopy nursing offers ample opportunity for personal and professional development via networking with other nurses in the field, becoming a nurse manager or leader who can educate and train others, and working alongside other qualified professionals to ensure delivery of quality of care.
I see myself fitting in well with my colleagues who are in the general gastroenterology sector. While exploring the field of endoscopy nursing, I realized that it takes a series of steps in order to fulfill the ultimate objective of working as a full-time, full-fledged, gastroenterology Registered Nurse. The first step is to obtain my associates or bachelors degree. The initial step will provide for me the foundation of knowledge required to succeed as a more advanced and specialized professional. During this time, I can acquire work in a healthcare institution in South Florida, where I can gain general understanding of heath care procedure, practice, and policy. The initial work experience will also expose me to different areas of nursing that coincide with endoscopy, and this will in turn show me what types of situations I will deal with once I am an endoscopy nurse. For example, there are certain diseases associated more often with gastroenterology problems and I will need to familiarize myself with these conditions. Professional experience will also help me hone my practice as a nurse, working from a caring perspective. Moreover, much of the training for endoscopy areas of specialization occurs on the job rather than in formal educational settings (Kaufman, 2011; Keefe, n.d.). For this reason, it is especially important to be patient while I develop my skills in the health care institution as a registered nurse.
When I become certified, and am a member of professional organizations like…