As manager in the Department of Radiology at University Hospitals of Cleveland, Greg Laukhuf, RN, ND, CRN, RN-BC, NE-BC, oversees the Nurse staff, Breast Center, Quality and Vascular Access. He explains the growth of this specialty and offers guidance for those interested in this role.
Radiology and imaging nursing is a dynamic subspecialty of nursing. During my years spent in this role, I have been frequently asked about my nursing specialty. It has grown in size over the last several decades as pioneering imaging technologies have been developed. In addition, the evolution of outpatient invasive procedures has stimulated increased patient interventions for complex medical conditions. Radiology and imaging nursing care has evolved as these patients receive diagnostic studies and interventional procedures requiring the care of a trained nurse to safeguard patient safety, ensure positive outcomes and promote patient experiences.
The path to this career begins with graduation from an accredited nursing school and passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Radiologic and imaging nurses may focus in one diagnostic area or several, depending on the practice setting. The experience level for radiology nurses varies, however many nurses enter this specialty with experience from the ICU, ED, Telemetry or cardiac catheterization suites. The reason for this is the need quick decision-making in the midst of varied patient medical backgrounds. The role is a combination of skills from the ED, ICU, OR, PACU, oncology and home health areas. Radiology nurses are among the first responders in the department to a patient emergency and must act quickly. Regardless of their backgrounds, the preparation of radiology nurses is designed with modality specific education. This includes education on the safe handling of contrast agents, sedation agents and working in a radiation or sterile environment.
Membership in my professional association is essential to my practice. The Association for Radiologic and Imaging Nursing (ARIN) has set the benchmark for radiology nurses or those working in a radiology setting through implementation of evidence based practice with core curriculums, orientation manuals, practice guidelines, webinars, white papers, imaging nurse review courses, and standards. These elements are critical to a vibrant, impactful nursing practice.