Radiology Nurse/Certified Radiology Nurse (CRN)

Radiology Nurse
Photo credit: UCSF (

Radiology nurses have a special interest in technology since they operate high-tech diagnostic medical equipment on an everyday basis. This field of nursing is vastly different from typical nursing, requiring a unique set of skills and talents.They work mostly in hospitals, but are beginning to work more in private practices too. Radiology is a dynamic field in nursing with the discovery of new test and diagnostic equipment introduced to healthcare almost yearly.

A radiology nurse takes care of patients who need various types of diagnostic tests and treatments. They also care for cancer patients who need radiation therapy as part of their treatment plan. Radiology nurse interview patients for tests and monitor their health status before, during and after tests or treatments. They also assist radiologist with medical procedures.

Education Requirements

In order to become a radiology nurse, a student must attend an Associate degree or Bachelor of Science in nursing degree program and pass the National Council of Licensure Exam (NCLEX). A new nurse should work on a med/surg unit for a year to gain some experience before applying for a job as a radiology nurse. Many registered nurses who desire to change their specialty to radiology, usually cross-train on a radiology unit; and learn from a preceptor.


After working 2000 hours in radiology, a nurse is eligible to sit for the Certified Radiology Nurse (CRN) exam for certification. Certification makes a radiology nurse more marketable, eligible for advanced position and an increase in pay.

Job Description & Duties

Radiology nurse provides a service to various types of patients with many different diagnosis. Radiology nurses must become experts at their job since there are multiple tests which must be performed in emergency situations and as routine tests. Radiology nurses have many responsibilities which must be carried out on a daily basis, depending on the type of test ordered for the patient. Some of their responsibilities include:

  • Start IV's for or access special types of port-a-caths to instill special types of dyes for test.
  • Administer medication.
  • Monitor vital signs.
  • Insert Foley Catheters.
  • Suction patients.
  • Administers analgesia and sedation as ordered by physicians.
  • Monitor patients’ oxygen saturation during procedures.
  • Monitor patients during recover and discharge home when cleared by their doctor.

Radiology nurses teach patients and families about their tests and what to expect during and after test. They orient new nurses to radiology and collaborate with other members of the healthcare team about their patients. They also preceptor nursing students in hopes to inspire some to become radiology nurses.

The following are some tests radiology nurses perform and medical areas they work in:

  • Diagnostic X-ray – is the department patients have routing chest x-rays, x-rays for possible fractures and x-rays of the abdomen for GI problems.
  • Breast Imaging – includes mammograms, ultrasounds and digital mammograms.
  • Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber – helps to increase the healing process while reducing inflammation for certain types of conditions such as wounds and fibromyalgia.
  • Endovascular Clinic – endovascular surgery is less invasive than regular surgery and is used to treat problems such as aneurysms and other blood vessel problems.
  • Wound Care Clinic – radiologist perform ultrasounds to check blood flow in patients extremities.
  • Vascular/Neuro Interventional Radiology – Vascular is an area of medicine that addresses venous and arterial problems; and Neuro is an area of medicine that deals with the brain and nerves.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – is used to diagnose many types of diseases and condition. This test provides 3-D imaging which make abnormal areas easier to see. A contrast medium (IV dye) may be used during an MRI.
  • Computed Tomography (CT scan) – is a diagnostic test which uses a contrast medium (IV dye) to diagnose certain medical problems.
  • Procedural Recovery Unit (PRU)

Job Outlook and Salary

Nurse radiology salaries average $52,000 annually and their job outlook is great due to the rise in the elderly population and advances in healthcare. CRNs make more than radiology nurses who aren't certified and a nurse with a Bachelor degree earn more than radiology nurse with an Associate’s degree.


Association for Radiologic and Imaging Nursing;

Written by

Carrie Cronkite BSN, RN

Carrie has been a registered nurse for 14 years and works at a local hemodialysis outpatient center. She has experience in cardiac nursing, orthopedic rehabilitation and [...]