What is Radiology Nursing?
Radiology nurses provide the necessary healthcare for diverse populations of patients in the radiology department of a hospital or other medical facility. Under the instruction of a certified radiologist, the radiology nurse administers medications, assists in physical examinations, assists in the development of a patient healthcare plan, collects data, documents the overall results of a patients diagnosis and treatment, monitors intravenous fluids (IVs), assists in sedating patients, and monitors patients' vital signs. Radiology nurses may educate the patients and the patient's family about current nursing policy. These healthcare standards should include the radiology department's strict adherence to the hospital's standards.
Radiology nurses work with medical equipment to accurately determine a diagnosis for the patient's symptoms. For instance, a radiology nurse receives hands-on training to provide nursing care within a broad range of specialties, including ultrasound, nuclear medicine, sonography, computer tomography, magnetic resonance, fluoroscopy, and angiography. Radiology nurses apply a concept known as the nursing process to accurately assess, diagnose, plan, implement, and evaluate a patient situation before making a concrete decision.
Radiology Nursing Education and Career Path
Prospective radiology nursing students have a long road to travel in their nursing career before entering a radiology department. Prospective radiology students need to obtain a general nursing degree in one of the many nursing programs available nationwide, such as an LPN program or RN program. Most prospective radiology nursing students will pursue an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing; however, a bachelor's degree in nursing will leave room for a master's degree in radiology.
General nursing students enrolled in online nursing programs may find it difficult to find specialty nurse jobs unlike traditional nursing schools. Online LPN programs and online RN programs may not offer the necessary clinical experience that will equip a graduate for specialty nursing occupations. Therefore, nursing students enrolled into online nursing programs must take the initiative to volunteer or apply for an internship to gain the required work experience that will Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) qualify them for radiology nurse jobs. General nursing students must also pass the national exam.
After establishing enough work experience as a general nurse, most interested parties will attempt to pass the Certified Radiological Nurse (CRN) examination administered by the Association for Radiological and Imaging Nursing (ARIN). Some radiology nurses opt for an advanced degree, such as a Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree to become more knowledgeable and aware of radiology nursing to provide optimum healthcare service for their patients. Moreover, some radiology students pursue a doctoral degree to further their nursing education in order to work as teachers in a college setting.
Radiology nurses provide more than medical healthcare assistance. In fact, radiology nurses provide emotional support for the patient and the patient's family, while the patient undergoes treatment. This can present challenges for the radiology nurse, especially if the patient's family asks a lot of questions during the patient's treatment. Radiology nurses often ease the patient's fears and assist in clarifying the treatments to the family. Therefore, a radiology nurse requires both medical knowledge and interpersonal skills.
Generally, radiology nurses work in hospitals, specialty centers, or doctors’ offices to provide healthcare for patients undergoing diagnostic or therapeutic radiation sessions. They initiate patient evaluations, explain procedures, and assist doctors in analyzing the results. In fact, radiology nurses will employ general nursing skills learned while obtaining their registered nursing credentials. Radiology nurses also need some general educational courses in human health, medicine, biology, human anatomy, and other miscellaneous subjects to fully understand the subject in-depth; however, academic theory will never replace clinical experience in form of volunteer work or a structured internship offered at local hospitals and clinics. After graduation, passing the NCLEX-RN exam, and finishing all applicable internships, most registered nurses can work independently and pursue continuing education to become a radiology nurse specialist.
Many hospitals and nursing schools offer accredited nursing programs designed for prospective students who want to work in the hospital's radiology department. Radiology programs may take up to two years to complete because of their unique and complicated structure. A radiology nurse has the opportunity to work under direct supervision with experienced radiology professionals during their complicated radiology nursing program. Radiology nurse students will need to immerse themselves in the terminology, techniques and common procedures employed in the field of radiology.
Radiology Nursing: Salary and Job Outlook
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects employment to grow faster than in average nursing fields. Radiology nurses with knowledge of more than one diagnostic imaging procedure, such as CT, MR, and mammography, will have the best radiology nurse opportunities offered to them. The overall employment of radiology nurses will increase by about 17% from 2008 to 2018. The vast majority of the population continues to age, which increases the demand for radiology nurses trained in diagnostic imagery. An increase in age often results in an increase incidence of disease and injury. Diagnostic imagery may also be used to monitor disease treatment, especially as medical technologies continue to progress.
Radiology nurses employ diagnostic imaging procedures based on the overall cost and reimbursement offerings; however, early disease detection will allow for lower cost of treatment down the road. Hospitals will employ most radiology nurses; however, some private physician offices and diagnostic imagery centers will open their door to qualified applicants. As diagnostic imagery technology advances, more physicians are deciding to employ imaging modalities within the physician’s office itself.
Demand for radiology nurses vary from region to region. In fact, some highly competitive regions are saturated with these specialty nurses, which may require radiology nurses seeking employment to relocate to less competitive regions. Radiology nursing students should pursue CT as the front-line diagnostic imagery tool before other technologies. Computed Tomography Imagery (CTI) continues to grow as the preferred diagnostic imagery tool because of its accuracy. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) comes in a close second with its increasing popularity. Radiology nurses with any of these specialties will be highly desirable to employers.
The salaries for radiology nurses range from the lowest percentage earning $48,530 to the highest percentage up to $52,210 annually. The lowest radiology nurses were employed in physicians’ offices, while the median percentage of radiology nurses were employed in general hospitals and clinics. The highly qualified worked in medical and diagnostic laboratories.