“Focus on your breathing. In and Out”. These are the usual words I say to my patients. Sometimes I feel like that I’m a YOGA instructor saying these words but my job is very different.
I am Viane, an Endoscopy Nurse, working in one of the NHS Trusts in England. I started as an A&E nurse but after a year, I felt the need for a change. I found an opportunity in Endoscopy unit and as I’m eager to learn something new, I took the plunge and accepted the role.
Day in my life as an Endoscopy Nurse
No two days are the same, being a nurse in Endoscopy. I can be assigned to various roles in a day. Roles vary from being a Primary Nurse who facilitates the admission stage or a Room Nurse who assists the Endoscopist during the procedure, or a Recovery Nurse who does all the post procedure monitoring, paper works and discharging.
During my first week, I had to re-learn the basic anatomy of the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory and genito-urinary system. Educating myself on the different preparations, benefits and risks of every procedure that my department offers. I had to become familiar with various medications for pain, sedation and bowel preparations. On my first month, I felt like I was back to being a student. It was not easy, but I managed to surpass it through my hard work, determination and my daily dose of caffeine from our department's vending machine.
I consider myself as blessed and lucky to be part of a great team. My managers were very supportive during my learning. They provided me with an induction program that I went through at my own pace. As months passed by, they gave me the opportunity to develop my capabilities enough to gain confidence and be signed off in every competency.
My typical day depends on how many lists we have each day. We have morning and afternoon sessions for outpatients and in-patients which can run four lists simultaneously. My department caters diagnostic and therapeutic procedures that might include gastroscopy, colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, bronchoscopy, EBUS, thoracoscopy, flexible cystoscopy, ERCP and PEG insertion. So, it can be really hectic! You can just imagine how hectic my day can be. I can reach 14,000 steps in an 8-hour shift. My legs are all sore by home time.
Even if it can be very busy and tiring at times, I can say I am really enjoying my job. It still amazes me every time I witness every Endoscopy procedure and how the equipment works inside the human body. I am amazed when I first observed a colonoscopy, in awe how magnificent the human body was made and how health care has innovated. I also love the daily interaction I have with my patients. I enjoy meeting different kinds of people and hearing stories from them. I remember I came across a patient who used to work with other Filipinos and he greeted me, “Kumusta Ka?”. Sometimes, it does not really feel like I’m working!
How to be an Endoscopy Nurse
For one to become a successful nurse in endoscopy, one should have good communication and interpersonal skills. I do a lot of talking, asking patients about their symptoms, including their medical history and any related concerns. Before each procedure, I also have to seek their consent. This can be a challenge as some patients can find the procedure daunting. But as long as you properly communicate to them on what will happen and why we need to do it, they would gladly give their consent.
Rapport building and practising empathy are also key in this work. Most patients who go through this procedure are anxious—probably scared of the procedure and/ or the results. They are concerned that abnormalities might be detected in their system. Understanding what they are going through is essential. Listening to patients and letting them know that you are there by their side help them feel more relaxed and less nervous.
Being resilient is also important in this job. As I mentioned earlier, I can be allocated to different roles in a day. Change is constant in our environment. You need to keep up with the pace and be quick to adapt to any changes happening.
Perks & Opportunities Available
Being an endoscopy nurse is not all hard work- it also has its perks. It might be embarrassing to admit, but I am one of the few nurses who hate night shifts! In our trust, we don’t do night shifts and since I am a full-time worker, I am required to work 37.5 hours per week, so that is equivalent to four days work, but not often at weekends. Aside from the “no nights”, we also have extra capacity shifts. We have the option in my department to work extra on a weekend, which, mind you, pays well. So, it’s a plus in my savings!
There are also good opportunities for career advancement in this field. Aside from levelling up the band, one can become Clinical Endoscopist. In the UK, nurses can go through a specialist course and be trained so that they can perform the procedure themselves. There are also other specialist nurses opportunities like the IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) Nurse, Bowel Screening Nurse, STT (Straight to Test) Nurse and Hepatobiliary Nurse.
Working as a Nurse in an Endoscopy Unit can be challenging, fascinating, and rewarding all at the same time. Just by staying beside my patient’s side and listening to them make a difference to them. Patients feel that they are not alone. We become their advocates, source of support and strength.
Endoscopy nursing is a field which I recommend especially to those who are looking for a change or for an area to specialise in. It offers a great schedule, additional enhancements & opportunities for career advancement. Lastly, this is the only job where you can tell strangers to stay calm and pass wind. pfffffft!
About the Writer:
Viane is both a Philippine and UK registered nurse with over 8 years of nursing experience. She worked as an A&E nurse for 7 years and now she is taking a new path in Endoscopy to widen her knowledge and skills. She is very compassionate and empathetic which make an effective nurse. Apart from her profession, she enjoys cooking, baking, reading, and watching series in Netflix.