Colonoscopy training for nurse endoscopists: a feasibility study

Gastrointest Endosc. 2009 Mar;69(3 Pt 2):688-95. doi: 10.1016/j.gie.2008.09.028.


Background: Screening by using colonoscopy is recommended in many countries to reduce the risk of death from colorectal cancer. Given the limited supply of medical endoscopists, nurse endoscopists may represent an economic alternative.

Objective: To develop a colonoscopy training program for nurse endoscopists and to evaluate the feasibility of this program.

Design: Two nurse endoscopists and 1 first-year GI fellow were enrolled in a colonoscopy training protocol, including computer-simulator training, flexible sigmoidoscopies, and colonoscopies under direct supervision.

Setting: A single-center prospective study.

Patients: The first 150 complete colonoscopies of each trainee endoscopist were evaluated and compared with 150 colonoscopies performed by an experienced endoscopist.

Main outcome measurements: Objective criteria for competency were diagnostic accuracy, cecal-intubation rate, cecal-intubation time, the need for assistance, and complications. Subjective criteria included patient satisfaction, pain, and discomfort scores.

Results: The nurse endoscopists' unassisted cecal-intubation rate was 80% for the first 25 procedures, gradually increasing in subsequent cases to 96% for the last 25 procedures. The mean cecal-intubation time at the end of the training period was 10 minutes. Cecal-intubation rates and times were comparable between the nurse trainees and the fellow. The patients reported low degrees of pain and discomfort, and high satisfaction scores, irrespective of the type of endoscopist. Diagnostic accuracy of the trainees was good. The complication rate was 0.3%.

Limitation: Nonrandomized design.

Conclusions: This pilot study suggests that nurses can be trained to perform colonoscopy in an effective manner, with results similar to a GI fellow. The learning curve indicated that 150 procedures are required before independent examinations are attempted.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Clinical Competence
  • Colonoscopy*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Specialties, Nursing / education*
  • Young Adult