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Amber Crossan is Waikato's first home-grown nurse endoscopist

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Waikato Hospital’s Amber Crossan is one of New Zealand’s first home-grown nurse endoscopists.

Her qualification means she is a clinical nurse specialist in endoscopy - the medical diagnostic technique where a thin tube with a powerful light and tiny camera at the end is inserted into the human body to get an inside view. It is used to investigate and diagnose diseases in a wide range of body parts, including the gut and colon.

Not only does she have the knowledge and skills, but she is endorsed to practice to the full scope of her new role and practise independently. Having trained nurse endoscopists available frees up specialist medical staff to undertake more complex procedures as well as directly contributing to service delivery.

Back in 2014 a national symposium recognised the growing gap between demand for endoscopy services and the number of qualified endoscopists, particularly with the planned rollout of the National Bowel Screening Programme. To address this, it was agreed to look at expanded nursing roles within gastroenterology so nurses could undertake a wider range of tasks in specialised clinics such as inflammatory bowel disease, hepatitis, dyspepsia and rectal bleeding.

Waikato Hospital was fully supportive of the plan and in September 2017 UK-trained Nicola Griffiths was employed as its first nurse endoscopist. With over 10 years of experience working in the field, Griffiths demonstrated outstanding clinical expertise and quickly gained the respect and support of her medical and nursing colleagues.

In 2018 Waikato Hospital joined the training programme, with registered nurse Amber Crossan working under Griffiths’ supervision in an expanded scope while undertaking training through the University of Auckland. The academic pathway includes papers in Sciences, Pharmacology, Assessment and Endoscopy.

In May 2020 Crossan became the first to graduate from the programme as a CNS - Nurse Endoscopist.

"During the training I have been taught the importance of advanced critical thinking, pathology recognition and management combined with the technical component of gastroscopy, colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, therapeutic polypectomy and the management of complications," she says.

She will be working with nursing teams, senior medical officers, registrars and fellows, and allied health professionals as well as community services and GPs, and with the continuing support of her mentor and the Endoscopy team.

Nicola Griffiths says the role of nurse endoscopist requires depth of knowledge and skill. She believes the development of independent autonomous nurse endoscopists like her and Amber Crossan will benefit patients and services, particularly in the pursuit of the National Bowel Screening Programme.

Their charge nurse manager Raewyn Ansley-Price says: "Congratulations Amber. Your hard work, passion and tenacity have been rewarded and our Endoscopy Unit and community will benefit as a result."

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