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The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists®

The Radiology Nurse

Ms Linda Ingles
Prof Stacy Goergen
Date last modified: October 28, 2015

1. What is a radiology nurse?

A radiology or medical imaging nurse is a registered or enrolled nurse who provides care to patients attending the radiology department of a hospital or a private radiology practice. Radiology nurses care for patients undergoing diagnostic or therapeutic radiology imaging and treatments. They are an integral part of the multidisciplinary care team and, while employed mainly in public hospitals, work increasingly in private healthcare facilities.

2. What does a radiology nurse do?

Radiology imaging investigations and minimally invasive treatments are central to modern healthcare services. Radiology nurses provide patient care during radiological investigations or procedures by using their skills to identify and meet a patient’s individual needs. They are experts in communicating with all members of the multidisciplinary team to ensure the best possible safety and care of patients.

Depending on the medical facility and types of procedures offered, the duties of a radiology nurse include:

  • Assisting patients and their carers with any questions or concerns about their procedure.
  • Assessing a patient’s prior and current health, including any allergies and other health issues.
  • Monitoring a patient’s vital signs; that is, blood pressure, temperature, critically analysing any changes, and then reporting and acting on those findings.
  • Administering and overseeing intravenous injections of contrast medium (solutions that enable the area of the body being imaged to show more clearly on the images or pictures).
  • Administering any required medications and light sedation when used.
  • Preparing patients for their procedure, including the use of antiseptic solutions and other methods of minimising the risk of infection.
  • Providing anaesthetic assistance when patients need to be drowsy (sedated) or asleep (using general anaesthesia) during the procedure.
  • Monitoring the recovery and discharge of patients after their procedure.

Radiology nurses must have a working knowledge of radiation safety, as well as all aspects of occupational health and safety and infection control.

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3. Why become a radiology nurse?

Medical imaging is an evolving, rapidly expanding specialty presenting a variety of challenges. The unique and varied nature of the specialty means there is always something new and interesting to learn. Within radiology, subspecialties are continuing to grow in the fields of interventional neuroradiology and oncology. The changing face of interventional radiology using minimally invasive techniques has enabled the treatment and cure of many diseases that once required the patient to undergo extensive surgical operations.

Due to the diversity of patients in hospital settings, radiology nurses have the ability to care for a wide range of patients of all ages, including emergency patients and those who have had surgical or medical treatments.

Nurses employed in medical imaging are at the cutting edge of clinical technology. A diverse range of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures are carried out that radiology nurses may be required to perform, such as peripheral intravenous cannulation and image guided insertion of central venous access devices. They assist radiologists and other specialists who use imaging to carry out a large variety of other procedures including:

  • diagnosing and treating disease in blood vessels (angiography and angioplasty)
  • draining fluid collections and abscesses in various parts of the body
  • diagnostic procedures for bowel and bladder problems

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4. How do you become a radiology nurse?

To become a radiology nurse, you will need to have completed your nursing degree and be able to nurse the diverse range of patients that receive radiology tests and procedures.

Imaging-specific skills will be gained whilst working in the radiology department, and many departments run comprehensive orientation programs.

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5. Where does a radiology nurse study?

Specific courses for Radiology/Medical Imaging nursing are conducted at the College of Nursing (CON) in Burwood NSW, available URL:

Undergraduate nursing training is at most universities in each state throughout Australia. A useful website to obtain the full list of Australian universities is:

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6. What else can a radiology nurse do?

Skills, knowledge and practical aspects of many procedures in radiology are fundamental to most other nursing specialties and are applicable to nursing care delivered in the following settings:

  • high dependency units
  • intensive care
  • operating theatres
  • emergency departments
  • endoscopy suites
  • cardiac catheter laboratories
  • nuclear medicine
  • breast screen

Radiology nurses are encouraged to be involved in research studies depending on where they are employed.