Gastrointestinal Nursing

Gastrointestinal Nursing or GI Nursing is a very interesting nursing specialty. The nurse in this field is exposed to different GI conditions and diseases. GI Nurses can offer general, pediatric and geriatric care. GI patients may have life threatening cancers or simple and complex bowel obstructions and even contagious conditions bowel irritations.
Gastrointestinal Nursing is not an easy field to be in. It takes dedication and a strong stomach. Nurses in this specialty have to face bowel discharges on a daily basis. Most of the patients may have severe diarrhea and irritative bowel syndromes. Some patients may be fitted with shunts, ostomies or stomas that allow the passage of fecal matter. These patients’ require special care that only an experienced Gastrointestinal Nurse can give. Below you will find some of the responsibilities facing a GI nurse on a daily basis.
·         Assisting Physicians in Different GI Procedures – The Gastrointestinal nurse will often be called to assist the physician in procedures such as endoscopy, colonoscopy and other invasive operations. In cases like these, the nurse needs to be well versed in the different procedures. He/she has to know how to properly prepare the patient. He/she must also know how to assist the physician during the actual procedure. Aside from the procedures mentioned above, the GI nurse may also be called to perform enemas. Enemas are part of a patient’s preparation for various surgeries and other invasive operations.
·         Health Teaching/ Patient Education – A gastrointestinal patient may require several procedures that he/she may find foreign or new to him/her. This means that the said patient may require health teaching to help them cope with their new situation. Health teaching and Patient education may range from simple facts like: What to eat and what to avoid. It may also include more complex tasks such as cleaning an ostomy and a stoma. Patients in such a situation may be fearful to do certain procedures themselves. It is now up to the gastrointestinal nurse to help alleviate their anxiety. GI nurses must also look into involving other family members in the client’s care.
·         Standard Nursing Care/Procedures – Gastrointestinal Nursing is in essence just like any other nursing field. Nurses still have to perform basic nursing procedures that every patient needs. These include telemetry, medication and other basics.
GI Nursing with other Nursing Specialties
Gastrointestinal nurses have the option of furthering their knowledge of the GI field. They may choose to work with children or with senior citizen alone. They can also make a career out of administering anesthetics to their patients needing sedation for a procedure.
Sedation is important in some invasive GI procedures. Often anesthesiologists are the ones called to oversee the process. Nurse anesthesiologists can also be called induce sedation. This is seen as important crossover between two nursing specialties. In this manner the gastrointestinal nurse can also serve as a GI nurse anesthetist. The GI Nurse may also choose to specialize in Pediatric or Geriatric cases. This is another example of a nurses having more than one nursing specialty.


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