Radiology nurses provide nursing care for patients undergoing diagnostic radiation such as ultrasounds, MRIs, or radiation therapy for cancer. The job of the radiology nurse is an evolving one, adapting to advances in imaging technology and research that is constantly being done in the field. These nurses can work with a large variety of patients of any age range. They can treat patients who are acute, critical, as well as non critical patients. They can specialize even further in various sub-specialties., although most experienced radiology nurses are trained in a variety of areas, such as computed tomography (CT), breast imaging, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), vascular/neuro interventional radiology, endovascular clinic, nuclear medicine, or fluoroscopy.
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Their duties in this field are varied, but are often different than a standard RN in a hospital. They are sometimes patient advocates, ensuring their comfort and making sure they understand their treatment. They provide patient assessment, patient education, administer IVs, medications, and monitor patients under a radiologist’s care. They care for the patients before, during, and after imaging procedures.
Steps to Becoming a Radiology Nurse
Becoming a radiology nurse begins with becoming a registered nurse (RN). A four year bachelor’s degree in nursing science is preferable; however a registered nurse with an associate degree and years of nursing experience is also a candidate for radiology nursing. If you already have an ADN, but not a significant amount of experience as a licensed RN, you may be interested in exploring available online RN to BSN programs. Once you earn your undergraduate nursing degree, you are required to pass the NCLEX exam (National Council Licensure Examination) given by your state’s board of nursing. You may need additional continuing education courses in radiology nursing before you can land a job in radiology nursing. Certification is ideal once you have earned your degree and accrued the necessary experience. Radiology nurse Certification is possible through the radiological nursing certification board (RNCB). To become board certified, you must be a licensed RN, with a minimum of 2,000 hours experience in radiology nursing. You must also have earned 30 hours of continuing education in radiology nursing. If you meet the requirements, you can take the exam. Recertification is required every four years.
Radiology Nurse Salary and Workplace Information
Because the profession requires advanced technology, the places of employment are primarily in radiology departments of hospitals. However, radiology nurses can also work in women’s clinics offering mammography, in centers focusing on cardiac health, or other radiology and imaging clinics.
The average salary for a radiology nurse in 2010 is $56,000. This can vary depending on employer, geographic location, experience, and benefits offered. The outlook for nursing specialties requiring additional education or experience is even more favorable than that of standard registered nurses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts nursing to be one of the fastest growing professions for many years, and advanced technology is enabling the more technological specialists such as this to work in more locations. A professional association you can join for career guidance and networking is the Association for Radiologic and Imaging Nursing (ARIN). Professional organizations are great resources for information on continuing education, conventions, and advances in the field, job postings, and networking.
Whether you are a registered nurse interested in radiology nursing or still considering nursing as a profession, this high-tech area of nursing could be a great career path for you. However it does require additional experience and education beyond a nursing degree, so get started now on your education to advance toward your goals in the healthcare field.
(Sources: Association for Radiologic and Imaging Nursing, arinursing.org, unchealthcare.org, cnetnurse.com, www.simplyhired.com)