Interventional Radiology Nursing: An Amazing Career Choice

Interventional Radiology Nursing: An Amazing Career Choice

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Written by Kate Avery, RN

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work in the interventional radiology (IR) department? What is the role of nurses in IR? How is it different from a floor nurse? I asked all of the same questions.

Towards the end of 2020, I was working in the COVID ICU and finding very little joy in my work. Bedside is hard, and after so many years, I knew it was time for a change. The straw that broke the camel’s back was finding out I was pregnant with my third child unexpectedly. I knew it was time for my family and me to have more stability. The solution for me was to become an IR nurse, which has been fantastic.

Read on to learn all about this wonderful niche and how to become an Interventional Radiology nurse.

What is Interventional Radiology?

In the Interventional Radiology department, radiologists perform procedures with imaging and the help of physician assistants, surgical technologists, and nurses.

Every system has a different arrangement in its department. In my rural hospital, the IR department consists of a few rooms - CT, Angio, Myelo, Ultrasound, MRI, and Mammogram rooms. The nurses in this department travel throughout these areas daily.

What is the Nurse's Role?

As an IR nurse, you will prepare patients for their procedures, review medications, place IVs, take vitals, and document these in the chart. Verifying the patient's NPO status (nothing by mouth) is necessary for patients receiving sedation or anesthesia. The patients are screened days in advance to prepare them for their procedure. The nurse also calls to check on patients after procedures, which provides a full circle of care.

Bedside Nurses versus IR Nurses

Compared to a bedside nurse, the nurse's role in IR is straightforward. Many of the tasks are repetitive. That being said, the nurse may handle upwards of 50 patients a day. The department is very fast-paced and busy.

Most IR nurses work eight-hour shifts. The nurses work closely with radiologists, and effective communication contributes to a successful environment.

In-Depth Look into My Day as an IR Nurse

When the nurse arrives at the unit, they head to their locker to change into comfortable scrubs and put away personal items. The rooms are notoriously cold, so grab that scrub jacket. When ready, head to the nurse's station and prepare for the assignment. Assignments are written on the schedule for that day. After reviewing, the nurse will start their tasks for the day.

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Inpatient procedures have a chart that needs to be reviewed. The nurse contacts the floor nurse and begins the screening process. If everything is ready for the patient, it’s time to head to the radiology meeting. The meeting reviews which cases are going to each room. Concerns are addressed about patients' cases during the day. Once everyone is satisfied, it’s time to begin the procedures.

The nurses ensure the patients are ready to come to the procedure room. Verify that consent is signed. Then, gather sedation medications and see if the room is ready.

Once in the procedure room, the nurse educates the patient on the intraprocedural process, attaches monitoring equipment and gets ready to begin the case. During the procedure, the nurse's job is to administer sedation medications, track vitals and end-tidal carbon dioxide (EtCO2), and monitor the patient. Documenting the procedure within the patient's chart. The nurses guide the majority of safety checks in the procedure area.

When the doctor has finished, the nurses move the patient back to the prep area, report off to the nurse in this location and continue on to the next patient. The nurses in the prep area will educate the patient and discharge them home.

Each area in the interventional radiology department is somewhat similar to nursing roles. Variations in procedures can change the nurse's intraprocedural tasks. In general, the role is to keep the patient safe, just like on the floor.

Requirements for the Job

Nurses interested in moving to the IR department need only a few things:

  • Active RN license in their state

  • Experience at the bedside

  • Willingness to learn

  • Experience in critical care

  • BLS and ACLS certification (ACLS may not be required for all positions)

In our department, nurses work full-time, part-time, or per diem. There are on-call days and weekend requirements. Holidays are staffed on an on-call basis only.

For me, the transition to becoming an IR nurse has renewed my passion for nursing. I can spend time with my family yet still connect with my patients. In our department, we have the luxury of creating lasting relationships with patients. Restoring this missing link from my nursing career has restored my fulfillment in this profession.

So often, when you work bedside in the hospital, patients come and go with very little connection. Patients can also be physically and mentally abusive. It’s just hard and stressful for a nurse working bedside these days.

A 12-hour shift can leave you with very little time at home. With a growing family, I knew I would never be able to support my family's needs while being away for so long. The switch 8-hour shifts has made such a difference.

Now, I can take care of my kids after work without everyone being up until late in the evening. They have a normal routine again. The stability that working in IR affords me is priceless. I have never looked back and wished ”I should have stayed bedside”.

On a positive note, Nursing is in a national shortage. If you're looking for more stability in your life, I highly suggest trying out a position like this. If it is not what you are looking for, keep looking. Nursing needs are at an all-time high, and we have the opportunity to try new roles and gain new experiences. Go explore!

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About the Author:

My name is Kate Avery, and I own Avery Content Services LLC. I am also a wife, mother to three crazy kids, nurse, and NP student. My life is messy, but I live and love my way through it and am manifesting what I know I can achieve. For more information about my services, please visit


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