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How to Become an Endoscopy Nurse

Daniel Bal, MS.Ed
Updated September 8, 2023
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Review the role of an endoscopy nurse, the steps needed for licensure and certification, and the opportunities available for those who pursue this specialty.
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Endoscopy nurses are registered nurses (RNs) who specialize in procedures to assess and diagnose gastroenterological and respiratory disorders. They are responsible for preparing patients and assisting physicians as they insert a fiber optic tube into the body to view the various parts of the digestive tract.

This guide covers the educational, licensure, and certification requirements for endoscopy nurses, plus their career outlook.

What is an Endoscopy Nurse?

Endoscopy nurses assist physicians who perform endoscopies and colonoscopies. An endoscopy is a non-surgical procedure where a fiber-optic tube with a light and camera is inserted through the mouth.

Endoscopies allow doctors and nurses to examine an individual’s esophagus, stomach, and upper part of the small intestines. During a colonoscopy, the endoscope is inserted through the rectum to examine the colon and large intestine.

Endoscopy nurses work in hospitals, specialty clinics, and clinical labs where they educate and prep patients, assist with procedures, analyze vital signs, administer and monitor sedation, update records, and complete discharge teaching.

Steps to Becoming an Endoscopy Nurse

Becoming an endoscopy nurse starts with earning either an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing. After earning their degree, nurses must then pass the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) and satisfy all of their state’s RN licensure requirements.

After spending several years gaining experience as an RN in endoscopy, nurses can pursue certification by the American Board of Certification for Gastroenterology Nurses (ABCGN) by passing the certification exam. Becoming board certified can provide RNs with a higher earning potential and advancement opportunities.

  1. 1

    Earn an ADN or BSN Degree

    Pursuing a nursing career requires a minimum of an associate degree in nursing (ADN), which takes two years to complete. However, many employers prefer RNs with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), especially when focusing on a specialization like endoscopy.

    Students with an ADN can enroll in an RN-to-BSN program. These programs allow students to earn their BSN in two years rather than four. Those with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree can enroll in an accelerated BSN program, allowing them to earn their bachelor’s in nursing in as little as a year.

  2. 2

    Pass the NCLEX Exam to Receive RN Licensure

    After completing an ADN or BSN, graduates must pass the NCLEX-RN before applying for an RN license in their state.

    The NCLEX assesses a nurse’s ability to analyze medical scenarios, patient safety and care environment, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity.

  3. 3

    Gain Experience in Endoscopy Nursing

    To become an endoscopy nurse, clinical experience is valuable. RNs can also establish relationships with current endoscopy nurses to learn more about the specialty. RNs can also pursue training from organizations such as the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates.

  4. 4

    Consider Becoming a Certified Gastroenterology Registered Nurse (CGRN)

    RNs can showcase their knowledge to current and prospective employers by earning their gastroenterology certification. Offered by the ABCGN, to become a certified gastroenterology registered nurse, RNs must have two years of full-time (or 4,000 hours of part-time) experience in gastrointestinal (GI) practice or endoscopy. Candidates are also required to pass the ABCGN certification exam.

    To renew their CGRN certification, RNs must complete 75 contact hours — 60 of those hours must be GI-specific contact, 30 of which must be from continuing education approved nursing seminars and workshops.

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Endoscopy Nurse Education

While becoming an endoscopy nurse requires a minimum of an ADN, many employers prefer to hire applicants with a BSN. Therefore, the most common educational path consists of earning a BSN, gaining clinical experience, and earning their certification. However, options also exist for those with an ADN or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree.

ADN Degree

An ADN is best suited for those who want to start working in the nursing field quickly. The shorter length also makes the program more affordable. While an associate degree is the minimum requirement to take the NCLEX and obtain RN licensure, a BSN may be preferred or required by some employers. However, if RNs want to pursue their BSNs, they can enroll in an RN-to-BSN program, allowing them to earn the degree in half the time.

  1. 1

    Admission Requirements

    High school diploma or GED certificate; minimum 2.0 GPA

  2. 2

    Program Curriculum

    Microbiology, anatomy, pharmacology, nursing principles, psychology, clinical skills, lab training

  3. 3

    Time to Complete

    Two years

  4. 4

    Skills Learned

    Graduates can identify basic medical terminology, understand legal and ethical issues in healthcare, properly measure a patient’s vital signs, administer medication, and perform various medical procedures.

BSN Degree

A BSN provides graduates with more career opportunities and advancement potential. Outside of nursing courses, BSN programs also require students to complete general education requirements, exposing them to more topics than their ADN counterparts. Therefore, BSN programs work best for students who are willing to spend the extra time earning their bachelor’s and who may want to continue their education in the future.

  1. 1

    Admission Requirements

    High school diploma or GED certificate; minimum 2.5-3.0 GPA; science and math prerequisite courses (C or better); pre-entrance exams (SAT)

  2. 2

    Program Curriculum

    Clinical experiences, community nursing, ethics, gerontology, leadership, behavioral health, nursing principles, pharmacology, physiology, psychology, women’s health, pediatrics

  3. 3

    Time to Complete

    4 years

  4. 4

    Skills Learned

    Critical thinking, case management, health and wellness promotion, leadership, evidence-based practice

Endoscopy Nurse Licensure and Certification

After earning either an ADN or BSN, graduates must pass the NCLEX to apply for an RN license, which is the minimum needed to work as an endoscopy nurse.

RN license renewal processes vary by state. However, most require a specific number of direct contact hours, which typically range between 24-30 hours. Certain states require some of those hours to focus on specific areas of study. Most states require license renewal every two years. However, the time can range from every 1-4 years.

While becoming a CGRN is not required, many employers may recommend it. To be eligible for certification, RNs must have two years of full-time clinical experience or 4,000 hours of part-time experience within the last five years. Renewal requires 75 contact hours every five years, 60 of which must include GI-specific content.

Working as an Endoscopy Nurse

Endoscopy nurses mainly work in hospitals and specialty clinics directly with patients. They may also work in clinical labs where they oversee the preparation of equipment, supervise disinfecting protocols, and ensure all policies and procedures are followed.

While the Bureau of Labor and Statistics does not track endoscopy nurses specifically, they project that all NP positions will increase by 9% by 2030, which is slightly above the 8% average. Endoscopy nurses can also expect to earn an hourly wage of $30.14 as of May 2022 according to Payscale, which is slightly lower than the average RN hourly wage of $31.04.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming an Endoscopy Nurse

question-mark-circleHow many years does it take to become an endoscopy nurse?

Earning an ADN, gaining clinical experience, and becoming a certified endoscopy nurse can take four years. However, many employers prefer RNs with a BSN, which would take an additional two years. Those with an ADN can also become an endoscopy nurse in six years if they choose to enroll in an RN-to-BSN program.

question-mark-circleWhat is the quickest way to become an endoscopy nurse?

The quickest way to become an endoscopy nurse consists of earning an ADN, gaining two years of clinical experience, and passing the certification exam offered by the ABCGN. This entire process takes an average of four years.

question-mark-circleHow hard is it to become an endoscopy nurse?

Since endoscopy nurses need an ADN or BSN, earning the appropriate education is no more challenging than any other RN program. However, the work itself can be demanding and fast-paced. Additionally, endoscopy nurses interact with patients who may be stressed or anxious.

question-mark-circleDo endoscopy nurses get paid well?

An endoscopy nurse’s salary is similar to that of an RN. According to Payscale, endoscopy nurses earn an average hourly salary of $30 as of May 2022, while RNs earn $31 per hour.

Page last reviewed on June 4, 2022

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