5 Pros and Cons of Being an Interventional Radiology Nurse + Salary + Steps to Become

Written By: Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH

The interventional radiology nurse is responsible for patient care throughout minimally invasive, image-guided surgical procedures from the moment a patient is admitted into an interventional radiation unit to the time when that patient is discharged to a post-operative recovery area. In some instances, interventional radiation nurses may even care for patients while patients are recovering from procedures. Interventional radiology is one of the fastest-growing nursing specialties: Between the years 2000 and 2018, the number of minimally invasive surgeries increased by 462 percent. If you’d like to find out more about the role of the interventional radiology nurse—what is it, how to become, salary, and the pros & cons—keep reading.


Interventional radiology is the use of imaging technologies in minimally invasive procedures. Commonly used imaging technologies include computed tomography (CT scanning), magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs), and sonography (ultrasounds.) Minimally invasive surgical procedures rely upon percutaneous approaches deploying specialized catheters, laparoscopic tools and similar medical devices rather than upon large incisions.

In many respects, the duties of an interventional radiology nurse are similar to the duties of any other nurse in a hospital or outpatient surgical center. If you’re working in a hospital, the bedside ward nurse will be responsible for activities that require direct patient contact before the patient is transferred to the interventional radiology service. But you will still be responsible for making sure those activities have been done.

• Screening:

You may be responsible for contacting the patient before he or she comes in for a procedure to check on allergies, review current medications and reiterate surgical guidelines (such as “nothing by mouth for eight hours prior to the surgery.”)

• Facility check-in:

You will educate the patient about just what the procedure entails and complete all pre-procedure checklists with your patient. You will insert any superficial intravenous lines that may be needed for the administration of medications during the procedure. You may also insert foley catheters.

• Procedure:

Unless an anesthesiologist is present during the procedure, you will have primary responsibility for any medications or medications given throughout the procedure. You may assist physicians with injecting contrast media into the body or inflating the balloons used to treat gastrointestinal and vascular conditions. If the patient is intubated, you may assist with suctioning. You will monitor the patient carefully throughout the procedure and report back to surgeons, other physicians and other healthcare professionals on the medical team.

• Post-procedure:

After the procedure is through, patients are generally transported to a recovery area like a paranesthesia care unit (PACU), an inpatient unit, or an intra-departmental recovery area. Often, these areas are staffed by nurses specially trained in administering immediate post-operative care. In some instances, however, the interventional radiology nurse may be in charge of immediate post-operative care. This care entails monitoring patients closely, recording vital signs, changing bandages as needed, administering laboratory tests, and analyzing test results.

• Discharge and follow-up:

You will educate the patient about home care and about what postprocedural complications he or she might encounter during the first week or so of recovery. You will call the patient after discharge to rule out postoperative complications.


Interventional radiology nurses care for patients of all ages and across all levels of the acuity spectrum. IR nurses may focus on a specific medical specialty such as oncology or cardiology, or they may be generalists. They work in a variety of practice settings, including:

• Hospitals:

No two workdays are ever the same for nurses affiliated with hospital IR departments since they participate in such a wide range of procedures. With oncology patients, those procedures might include biopsies, and the insertion or removal of infusion ports while with cardiology or vascular patients, procedures might include angioplasty and stenting. In some hospitals, the imaging department is affiliated with Medicine, while in others, it’s part of Nursing, but in either case, you must adhere to nursing best practices.

• Outpatient surgical centers:

The popularity of interventional radiology procedures in ambulatory care centers is growing because they are so much less expensive than the same procedure done in a hospital setting. More than 40 CPT codes are associated with interventional radiology procedures performed at ambulatory care centers, including transcatheter intravascular stent placements and the ablation of liver and renal tumors. Interventional radiology nurses assist with most of these procedures.

• Outpatient imaging centers:

At outpatient imagining centers, interventional radiology RNs provide care for patients undergoing MRIs, digital mammography, ultrasounds, CAT scans, and other imaging procedures.

• Freestanding radiology clinics:

At freestanding radiology clinics, interventional radiology nurses typically provide the same set of services they do in hospitals. Freestanding radiology clinics are becoming more popular because scans performed there are priced more competitively.


Though hospital interventional radiology departments keep 9-to-5 hours, they are typically open for appointments seven days a week, so full-time nurses employed there generally work 36- or 40-hour weeks, including weekends. If IR nurses aren’t scheduled to come in on weekends or after hours, then they’re often on call for those hours.

Interventional radiology nurses employed by freestanding facilities work during the hours the facility is open, which is usually 9-to-5 weekdays.


While any nurse can specialize in interventional radiology nursing, the field is most likely to appeal to nurses who are:

• Technology-forward:

Imaging technology is a rapidly evolving field. As an interventional radiology nurse, you will be working with sophisticated technology that’s continually evolving. You’ve got to be comfortable with new treatments that push the boundaries of what you already know.

• Detail-oriented:

Interventional radiology units are busy places, and you’ll be required to stay on top of everything that’s happening. That means you’ll have to remain focused on what you’re doing even when there’s a lot going on all around you so that nothing falls through the cracks.

• Good communicators:

As an interventional radiology nurse, you’ll be guiding patients through procedures that may be unfamiliar and even frightening. You must be able to explain these procedures in clear language without using a lot of medical jargon your patients may not be able to understand. You’ll also be doing a lot of patient education, so you must enjoy teaching.

• Passionate about learning:

Interventional radiology is a relatively new field in medicine, and you must be able to keep up with all the new information you’ll be exposed to. Procedures will change as the underlying science changes, and you must be able to adapt quickly to those changes.

• Well-organized:

There’s always a lot going on in an interventional radiology practice setting, and you’ll need to stay on top of all of it. Since interventional radiology nursing is a relatively new field, you may also be called upon to undertake administrative responsibilities such as drafting specific patient care policies.

• Persistent:

As a patient advocate, you must persist in putting patient safety first at all times.

• Flexible:

As noted above, interventional radiology units are fast-paced environments, and IR nurses work with patients of all ages and assist in a wide variety of procedures. You must be adaptable enough to jump from a case of carotid artery stenosis to a cholangiogram-assisted laparoscopic surgery with minimal downtime.


The skills needed to be an interventional radiology nurse are a mix of clinical competencies and team-building abilities:

• Experience:

Most employers will not hire you into an interventional radiology nursing position without prior experience in radiology, cath lab, critical care, or emergency practice setting. You can get experience by taking continuing education classes or by receiving on-the-job training in a radiology clinic under the supervision of experienced interventional radiology nurses and interventional radiologists.

• Clinical competencies:

As an interventional radiology nurse, you’ll be expected to know how to insert peripheral intravenous lines, assess heart and lung sounds, inject dyes, inflate balloons, scrub into procedures and assist with procedures as varied as angiograms, ultrasound-guided biopsies, hemodialysis shunt placements, and vertebroplasties.

• Assessment:

You must be able to perform thorough physical and psychosocial assessments in order to provide the comprehensive pre-and post-procedural care interventional radiology patients require.

• Time management:

Interventional radiation practice settings are bustling environments. You must be able to keep up the pace without sacrificing the quality of the patient care you render. No two days are ever the same in an IR unit, and you must be able to manage the flow and accommodate scheduled as well as emergency patient procedures.

• Critical thinking:

Interventional radiology procedures are not without their risks, and managing risks calls for the ability to solve problems quickly. If a patient has a reaction to a contrast media, for example, you’ll be the first line of treatment, and you’ll have to think on your feet.

• Reassuring bedside manner:

A patient’s mood can influence the outcome of interventional radiology. According to research presented at the 2015 Radiological Society of North American Annual Meeting, patients who felt scared, distressed or hostile before undergoing an interventional radiology procedure experienced poorer outcomes. An important part of your job as an interventional radiology nurse will be helping your patients maintain a positive attitude.

• Excellent verbal and written skills:

As an interventional radiology nurse, you’ll be interacting with physicians, radiology technicians, other nurses, and patients. The ability to communicate clearly both in speech and in writing will minimize the transmission of misinformation, reduce medical errors and enhance overall patient satisfaction.


What Education Is Required To Become An Interventional Radiology Nurse?

Interventional radiology is only open to registered nurses, so you must have either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN) to become an interventional radiology nurse. Both programs require a high school diploma. Becoming an interventional radiology nurse entails familiarizing yourself with anatomy, physiology and basic sciences, so your high school transcripts should emphasize chemistry, biology, and math.

ADN programs are typically two-year degrees, offered by community, technical and vocational colleges. BSN programs are generally four-year programs, affiliated with colleges or universities. Both ADNs and BSNs are offered by online venues. Some online venues offer accelerated programs that will allow you to graduate sooner.

Increasingly, advanced practice RNs are entering the interventional radiology field. Since interventional radiology is not among the APRN Consensus Model-approved specialties, interventional radiology APRNs tend to be nurse practitioners in either adult-gerontology-acute care nurse practice or pediatric-acute care nurse practice.

What Licensure Is Required To Become An Interventional Radiology Nurse?

You must be a licensed registered nurse to become an interventional radiology nurse, which means you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam and then pursue licensure in the state where you hope to work.

NCLEX-RN-test takers must complete anywhere between 75 to 265 questions. The test utilizes computerized adaptive testing: The time limit to complete the test is six hours, but the exam will end if:

• A student completes 75 questions that demonstrate competency as a nurse
• A student completes 75 questions that fail to demonstrate competency as a nurse
• A student answers all the questions
• A student uses the entire six hours

The fee to take the NCLEX-RN is $200.

Licensure fees, requirements and timelines vary considerably from state to state.

What Certifications Are Required OR Recommended For An Interventional Radiology Nurse?

States don’t require an RN who wants to become an interventional radiology nurse to be specially certified. Many employers, however, prefer to employ RNs who’ve voluntarily earned certification through the Radiologic Nursing Certification Board (RNCB). In order to qualify to sit for the Certified Radiology Nurse (CRN) exam, RNs must have logged a minimum of 2,000 hours in radiology within the past three years and taken 30 hours of continuing education classes within that specialty.

The Certified Radiology Nurse (CRN) exam is administered on a pass/fail basis and consists of 150 multiple-choice questions. The passing score is 95, which means the test-taker has answered 73 percent of the questions correctly. If you don’t pass the exam, the RNCB will send you a breakdown of your test performance, and you’ll have the opportunity to retake the examination. Exam fees for members of the Association for Radiologic and Imaging Nursing are $325; nonmembers must pay $425.

Other useful certifications include:

Basic Life Support (BLS)
Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
Neonatal Advanced Life Support (NALS)
Emergency Neurological Life Support (ENLS)
Advanced Radiology Life Support (ARLS):
Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS)

What Additional Training And Experience Is Required To Become An Interventional Radiology Nurse?

No specific training or experience per se is required for becoming an interventional radiology nurse. But interventional radiology calls for nurses who are comfortable working with complex patient profiles across a wide range of acuity levels, so employers typically prefer to hire RNS with previous intensive care unit (ICU), post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) emergency room or other critical care experience.

What Are The Continuing Education Requirements For An Interventional Radiology Nurse?

All registered nurses must take at least 45 continuing education units within a three-year period in order to retain their licensure. In order to maintain your Critical Radiology Nurse (CRN) certification, you must take at least 60 contact hours of continuing education within four years, and at least half of those hours must be related to a radiologic subject. Additionally, employers may have their own continuing education requirements for the interventional radiology nurses who work for them.


How Long Does It Take To Become An Interventional Radiology Nurse?

No specific time interval is associated with becoming an interventional radiology nurse. For an RN with an ADN degree, it can take as little as three and a half years: two years to complete ADN education, six months to study for the NCLEX-RN exam and attain state licensure, and approximately one year to complete the 2,000 hours of radiology experience needed in order to sit for the CRN exam.

For an RN with a BSN degree, it can take as little as five and a half years: four years to complete ADN education, six months to study for the NCLEX-RN exam and attain state licensure, and approximately one year to complete the 2,000 hours of radiology experience needed in order to sit for the CRN exam.

How Much Does It Cost To Become An Interventional Radiology Nurse?

If you want to become an interventional radiology nurse, it will set you back anywhere between $10,000 and $110,000. The costs of an ADN education range between $10,000 and $40,000 while the costs of a BSN education range between $40,000 and $100,000.

It costs $200 to take the NCLEX-RN and an additional $425 to take the CRN exam. The cost of continuing education classes varies from free to $150 or more, depending upon the content of the course, its location, and how its content is delivered. Many employers will reimburse interventional radiology nurses for the costs of the CEUs they take.


An increasing number of opportunities in the realm of interventional radiology are opening up for advanced practice nurses, both clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners. Additionally, an increasing number of IR RNs are also choosing to specialize in minimally invasive surgeries involving specific parts of the body such as:

Brain surgeries
Heart surgeries
Hiatal hernia repairs
Kidney surgeries
Spinal surgeries


Interventional radiology nursing has a few risks. Here are the top cons of being an interventional radiology nurse:

1. Potential for radiation exposure:

The imaging technologies used in interventional radiology rely upon radiation. Although nurses working in rooms with radiation-emitting equipment wear lead aprons and specialized glasses, there is always the possibility that nursing staff may be at risk of exceeding recommended dose limits.

2. Orthopedic injuries:

Lead aprons are heavy. In a 2015 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 60 percent of the IR nurses surveyed reported musculoskeletal discomfort so severe that it required medical attention. This may be one of the biggest disadvantages of being an interventional radiology nurse.

3. You have to be on call:

Interventional radiology units handle emergency procedures, and those emergency procedures must be staffed. That means interventional radiology nurses must work a certain number of on-call shifts. A typical on-call schedule might be one night per week, one weekend per month, and two holidays per year.

4. You may have to stay late:

For the most part, interventional radiology nurses are expected to finish out their cases. Thus, if you’re assigned to a patient who’s admitted at 2:30 p.m. toward the end of the day shift, you’ll be expected to continue caring for that patient until he or she is transferred to post-operative recovery care, even if you were due to go home at the end of the day shift.

5. The work can be monotonous:

There’s a lot of repetition in most interventional radiology units. The same procedures are done over and over again. Some nurses like this, but others may find it boring.


Becoming an interventional radiology nurse can also be a deeply rewarding decision. Here are the top pros of being an interventional radiology nurse:

1. Variety of specialties:

From oncology cases to cardiac and renal cases, a wide spectrum of patients benefit from interventional radiology procedures. As an interventional radiology RN, it’s likely that you’ll be able to specialize in the types of cases that most appeal to you.

2. Interesting technology:

Interventional radiologists use a wide variety of imaging techniques such as X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scans), fluoroscopy, computed tomography (CT scans), and ultrasounds. If you’re a tech-head, there’s always something new and fascinating to learn.

3. Autonomy:

Within their functional teams, interventional radiology nurses enjoy a fair degree of autonomy. For many IR RNs, this is one of the biggest advantages of being an interventional radiology nurse.

4. Good salary:

As an interventional radiology nurse, your pay will be 40 percent higher than what floor nurses and staff nurses make on average: $98,623 versus $70,335.

5. Day shifts mostly:

Though emergency IR procedures can take place at any time of the night or day, scheduled procedures usually take place in the daytime. That means that as an interventional radiology nurse, you will mostly be working 9-to-5 shifts on weekdays—with an occasional on-call night or weekend shift.


What Is The Starting Salary Of An Interventional Radiology Nurse?

The starting salary of an interventional radiology nurse is $31.65, $5,490 a month, or $65,830 a year. Since there really aren’t any academic programs that prepare RNs for a career in interventional radiology, interventional radiology nurses learn their trade on the job for the most part, and this is reflected in starting salaries that are 33 percent less than the average salary for this position. Interventional radiology nursing orientations typically last between 6 and 12 weeks. Paying these entry-level nurses lower salaries allows their employers to recoup some of these training costs.


What Is The Average Salary Of An Interventional Radiology Nurse?

The average salary of an interventional radiology nurse is $47.41 an hour, $8,220 a month, or $98,623 a year. As noted above, this is 40 percent higher than the average salary that RNs of all specialties make, which is $70,335 annually. Interventional radiology nurses generally achieve this benchmark in the 10th or 11th year of their career.

(Source: Ziprecruiter.com)

How Much Does The Interventional Radiology Nurse Salary Grow With Experience?

IR nurses with one to four years of experience make 15 percent more than entry-level interventional radiology nurses while IR nurses with five to nine years of experience make 41 percent more than entry-level interventional radiology nurses. IR nurses with two decades or more of experience make significantly more than twice the average entry-level interventional radiology nurse salary.

Level of Experience Annual Monthly Hourly
Entry-Level $31.65$5,490$65,830
1-4 Years of Experience $36.52$6,330$75,970
5-9 Years of Experience $44.64$7,740$92,850
10-19 Years of Experience $55.46$9,610$115,360
20 Years or More Experience $68.88$11,940$143,270

What Benefits And Perks Can An Interventional Radiology Nurse Expect?

In addition to highly competitive salaries, interventional radiology nurses also receive non-cash compensation called benefits. Some of these benefits like unemployment insurance, COBRA and workers’ compensation are mandated by federal law; others are awarded at an individual employer’s discretion and are used to attract high-quality candidates to job openings.

Interventional radiology nurse benefits include:

• Paid leave:

As an interventional radiology nurse, you can expect to receive generous time off, including vacation, holidays, sick time, and paid maternity and parental leave.

• A retirement plan:

Your retirement plan is likely to provide matching employer contributions with a short vesting time.

• Medical insurance:

Many employers offer IR RNs a range of healthcare insurance plans to choose among. Coverage is usually extended to the nurse’s family members as well. Healthcare insurance plans frequently include dental, vision, and prescription drug coverage.


Interventional radiology nursing salaries vary greatly from state to state. This pay fluctuation likely reflects two factors: the popularity of minimally invasive surgery in any given state and state-to-state differences in the cost of living. Nearly 15 million laparoscopic surgeries were performed throughout the U.S. in 2018, but unfortunately, an easily accessible database breaking out this number on a state-to-state basis does not exist. It’s easiest, therefore, to analyze the range in IR RN salaries in terms of differences in the cost of living.

Interventional radiology nurses earn their highest salaries in California. California has the third-highest cost of living of any of the 50 states. If interventional radiology nurses in California were not paid so highly, they couldn’t afford to live in the Golden State, and the need for their services would remain unmet.

Interventional radiology nurses earn the least amount of money in Alabama. Alabama has the seventh-lowest cost of living in the U.S., and because of the comparative paucity of medical centers in the Cotton State, it’s likely that the number of minimally invasive surgeries performed there is much lower than it is in California. Lower demand plus lower cost of living leads to lower salaries. Interventional radiology nurses in Alabama earn approximately half of what they do in California.

State Hourly Monthly Annual
Alabama $35.69 $6,190 $74,240
Alaska $56.46 $9,790 $117,430
Arizona $47.63 $8,260 $99,080
Arkansas $37.71 $6,540 $78,440
California $71.45 $12,380 $148,610
Colorado $46.14 $8,000 $95,970
Connecticut $50.28 $8,720 $104,590
Delaware $44.05 $7,640 $91,620
Florida $41.19 $7,140 $85,680
Georgia $42.38 $7,350 $88,150
Hawaii $62.13 $10,770 $129,220
Idaho $42.46 $7,360 $88,310
Illinois $44.19 $7,660 $91,910
Indiana $40.00 $6,930 $83,190
Iowa $37.08 $6,430 $77,130
Kansas $38.05 $6,600 $79,140
Kentucky $38.36 $6,650 $79,790
Louisiana $40.30 $6,990 $83,830
Maine $42.10 $7,300 $87,570
Maryland $48.35 $8,380 $100,570
Massachusetts $57.04 $9,890 $118,640
Michigan $43.84 $7,600 $91,190
Minnesota $47.98 $8,320 $99,790
Mississippi $36.30 $6,290 $75,500
Missouri $39.05 $6,770 $81,230
Montana $41.80 $7,250 $86,940
Nebraska $41.17 $7,140 $85,640
Nevada $53.19 $9,220 $110,630
New Hampshire $45.02 $7,800 $93,640
New Jersey $50.80 $8,810 $105,660
New Mexico $44.86 $7,780 $93,310
New York $53.19 $9,220 $110,640
North Carolina $40.86 $7,080 $84,990
North Dakota $41.26 $7,150 $85,830
Ohio $41.34 $7,170 $85,980
Oklahoma $39.47 $6,840 $82,090
Oregon $57.03 $9,890 $118,620
Pennsylvania $43.95 $7,620 $91,420
Rhode Island $49.06 $8,500 $102,050
South Carolina $39.79 $6,900 $82,760
South Dakota $36.13 $6,260 $75,140
Tennessee $38.00 $6,590 $79,040
Texas $45.51 $7,890 $94,670
Utah $41.70 $7,230 $86,740
Vermont $42.75 $7,410 $88,920
Virginia $44.08 $7,640 $91,680
Washington $54.11 $9,380 $112,550
West Virginia $38.60 $6,690 $80,280
Wisconsin $44.30 $7,680 $92,150
Wyoming $43.02 $7,460 $89,490


What Are The 10 Highest Paying States For Interventional Radiology Nurses?

As noted above, interventional radiology nurses earn their highest salaries in the Golden State. In general, IR RNs make the most money in northeastern states like Massachusetts and New York, and in Pacific Ocean-facing states like California and Hawaii—in part because these are the areas where the most prominent hospitals, research centers and other healthcare facilities are located.

Rank State Average Annual Salary
1 California $148,610
2 Hawaii $129,220
3 Massachusetts $118,640
4 Oregon $118,620
5 Alaska $117,430
6 Washington $112,550
7 New York $110,640
8 Nevada $110,630
9 New Jersey $105,660
10 Connecticut $104,590

What Are The 10 Highest Paying Metros For Interventional Radiology Nurses?

Since California is the highest-paying state for interventional radiology nurses, it’s not surprising that the 10 cities where interventional radiology nurses earn their highest salaries are all located in the Golden State. Even so, there’s considerable variation in the range of salaries: IR RNs employed in the densely populated San Francisco Bay Area make 33 percent more than IR RNs employed in Redding, the capital of sparsely populated Shasta County.

Rank Metro Average Annual Salary
1 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA $183,910
2 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA $181,040
3 Vallejo-Fairfield, CA $175,210
4 Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA $165,600
5 Salinas, CA $162,900
6 Santa Rosa, CA $153,880
7 Modesto, CA $149,260
8 Stockton-Lodi, CA $142,810
9 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA $139,440
10 Redding, CA $137,880


Is There A Demand For Interventional Radiology Nurses?

The demand for interventional radiology nurses is strong. The field is so highly specialized that nurses outside the specialty can’t function as effective substitutes because they simply don’t possess the specific knowledge and skillsets that drive optimal patient outcomes.

Why Is There A Demand For Interventional Radiology Nurses?

Interventional radiology nurses are specialists in caring for patients undergoing minimally invasive surgical procedures. Research published in the May 2015 issue of JAMA-Surgery suggests that not only does minimally invasive surgery prevent thousands of post-surgical complications (thereby leading to better patient outcomes), but also that it can reduce the number of hospital stays and eliminate an estimated $280 million to $340 million a year from the nation’s healthcare bill.

The market research firm BIS, which focuses on emergent technologies, estimates that the global market for minimally invasive surgical solutions is growing at 11 percent a year and will be worth $40.5 billion by 2025. So long as the demand for minimally invasive surgery continues to grow, the demand for interventional radiology nurses will continue to grow.


Interviews are an important part of the hiring process. Here are a few sample interventional radiology nurse interview questions:

Question #1: How much experience do you have as an interventional radiology nurse and have you worked in the specialty—for example: palliative medicine, nuclear medicine, pediatric radiology etc.—for which you are being considered?

What the Interviewer Really wants to Know:

As noted above, interventional radiology is a relatively new area in medicine, and many nurses applying for jobs in that field will not have much prior experience. Your prospective employer here is trying to gauge how much time it will take to orient you to your new position. Be honest about your experience or lack thereof.

Sample Answer:

I’ve never worked in interventional radiology, but I have worked in a fast-paced post-anesthesia recovery unit, so I understand the challenges and the pressures that come with providing this type of care. I’m already proficient in many of the clinical skills necessary to perform this job well such as starting IVs and performing physical assessments. I’m a quick learner and feel confident I can learn to do what’s expected of me in this position within a comparatively short period of time.

Question #2: Describe a time when you didn’t get along with a coworker or a manager, and the steps you took to resolve that situation.

What the Interviewer Really wants to Know:

Interventional radiation units function as closely-knit teams, and feuding team members can really undercut that team’s efficiency. With this question, the interviewer wants to be reassured that you’ll always put the best interests of the team first.

Sample Answer:

There’s one nurse in my present position with whom I used to clash fairly often. He’s not a bad person; it’s just that our personalities are very different. We’re both professionals, though, so I suggested we meet for coffee and figure out a way that we could put our differences aside during working hours so that we could continue giving patients high-quality care. I could have gone to my manager and complained about him, but instead, I decided it would be more effective to communicate with him directly one-on-one. This led me to appreciate the power of clear communication.

Question #3: How do you handle patient anxiety?

What the Interviewer Really wants to Know:

Although interventional radiology procedures are less painful than traditional surgery, they can be highly anxiety-provoking for patients who are unfamiliar with various types of imaging technology. With this question, the interviewer is trying to gauge your empathy level as well as how you prioritize the comfort of the patients in your care.

Sample Answer:

I believe that personal interactions are the most effective means of allaying patient anxiety. I always reserve a few minutes to establish rapport with every patient assigned to me. If they have questions, I make time to answer them. Since anxious patients often do not remember what they’ve been told about the procedure they are about to undergo, I always make time to summarize what they should expect to happen. When humor is appropriate, I make gentle jokes.

Question #4: Describe a time when you had to handle a nursing issue without much backup?

What the Interviewer Really wants to Know:

Nurses in an interventional radiology unit have a great deal of autonomy. They are expected to perform optimally without micro-management. This question is designed to find out how good your problem-solving, critical-thinking abilities are.

Sample Answer:

A few weeks ago, I admitted a patient to our ambulatory care unit who was scheduled for an angiogram later than afternoon. His blood pressure was unacceptably high, and I thought this might result in having to delay the procedure. I called his physician, explained the issue and asked if I could have a PRN order for an antihypertensive medication in case it was necessary. The physician complied with my request and told me I’d made a good call.


Organizations And Associations

The Association for Radiologic & Imaging Nursing (ARIN): ARIN is the leading professional organization for nurses working in diagnostic, neuro/cardiovascular and interventional radiology; computerized tomography; nuclear medicine; magnetic resonance; and radiation oncology. It’s open to registered nurses, nursing students, retired nurses, and individuals who are interested in the field. Active membership dues are $120 annually. Membership benefits include a subscription to The Journal of Radiology Nursing (published quarterly); an annual spring convention; live and on-demand webinars; and discounts on the ARIN Imaging Nurse Review Course and the Certified Radiology Nurse (CRN) Certification Exam.

RAD-AID.org: RAD-AID is an organization that sponsors humanitarian missions to medically underserved populations throughout Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas who can benefit from access to radiology and imaging technologies. The organization is open to physicians, medical students and radiation technologists as well as to nurses. In 2019, the organization had grown to include 22,000 volunteers from 146 countries, serving 38 hospitals in more than 38 countries.

Radiologic Nursing Certification Board (RNCB): RNCB is the organization in charge of interventional radiology nurse credentialing. It’s affiliated with ARIN.

YouTube Videos

A Day in the Life of Interventional Radiology Nurses: This two-and-a-half-minute video, produced by the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, reviews the overall functioning of a hospital interventional radiation unit. It’s a great resource for learning how an IR unit is set up as well as about its basic operations.

What is Interventional Radiology? In this three-minute video, an interventional radiologist offers an overview of his field that includes the types of cases you are most likely to see as an IR RN. It reviews the various types of minimally invasive surgical techniques that rely upon imaging guidance.

ICU Nurse to Interventional Radiology Nurse: In this 10-minute video, a critical care nurse discusses his transition from the ICU to an interventional radiology unit. The video includes a fascinating discussion on the use of biomarkers as a laboratory parameter that can help guide interventional radiology procedures.

#DAYINTHELIFE | Interventional Radiology Nurse: This 10-minute video is a more traditional look at what an IR RN might encounter during the course of a typical day on the job.


Interventional Radiology for Nurses: Interventional radiologist Dr. Amrit Hansra gives an overview of the imaging modalities used for common IR procedures such as G-tubes, biliary drains and nephrostomy tubes with an emphasis on key nursing takeaways. The hour-long podcast is part of the Up My Nursing Game series and offers one free credit of continuing education units.

The Kinked Wire: This podcast is produced by The Society of Interventional Radiology. Though the podcast is aimed at physicians, it offers an excellent overview of the latest trends and developments in the field that will be of great interest to IR RNs as well.

NETWise: Surgery and Interventional Radiology for NETs: This 45-minute podcast focuses on minimally invasive surgical procedures used in the treatment of neuroendocrine tumors and small bowel tumors. It also explains enucleation surgery, bland embolization, chemoembolization, radioembolization, and radiofrequency ablation.


Pocket Interventional Radiology (Pocket Notebook): This book contains key clinical information regarding the workup of patients, imaging, and necessary procedural details, including physical exam tips and tricks, medication information, and pre- and post-procedure patient management. Although written specifically for physicians, the information it contains is very useful for interventional radiology nurses, too.


On any given day, interventional radiology nursing involves a mix of inpatient, emergency, and elective procedures. Since the IR caseload varies so greatly from day to day, there’s no such thing as a “typical” day for the nurses who work there. We’ll be following MaryAnn, an interventional radiology nurse at a university medical center.

6:30 a.m. - 7:00 a.m.:

Although technically, my shift doesn’t start until 7 o’clock, I usually get to work around 6:30 so that I can grab a cup of coffee, chat with my colleagues and change into a set of clean scrubs at my leisure.

7:00 a.m. – 7:30 a.m.:

The interventional radiology unit at our hospital is fairly big with a cath lab and suites dedicated to angiograms, intravenous pyelograms (IVPs), and CAT scan-guided biopsies. On day shifts, we usually have five nurses, and they’re each assigned to one of these areas for a few days in a row. There’s also a patient waiting area, and as patients can often feel ill or nauseated while they’re waiting for a procedure, we usually assign a nurse to that area as well if staffing allows.

I check the scheduling board: This week I’ve been assigned to angio.

7:30 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.:

Since I work at a teaching hospital, I often have the opportunity to sit in on staff presentations. This morning, one of the residents is doing a presentation on a recent patient who presented with early signs of cirrhosis of the liver, secondary to liver cancer. She was treated with microwave ablation, but unfortunately, her symptoms have not abated. The discussion centered around whether her symptoms represented postoperative inflammation or the reemergence of her tumor. I really learn a lot at these morning presentations because quite often, they are interdepartmental: This morning in addition to the unit’s own diagnostic and interventional radiologists, we are also hearing from an oncologist and a liver surgeon.

8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.:

Seven patients have been scheduled for angiograms today. The first case is scheduled to begin in one-half hour. I use this time to familiarize myself with their charts and do a quick inventory of the box in which we keep the emergency medications that we will have to use if a patient has a reaction to the dye contrast media.

8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.:

The angio area processes four cases this morning. An uncomplicated angiogram takes around an hour though that time can be longer if the angio is combined with other cardiac catheterization procedures. We also use the angio area for other types of diagnostic and interventional radiology procedures involving renal and hepatic patients.

In addition to starting peripheral IVs and prepping patients, my tasks this morning include setting up and assisting with the placement of Ash split hemodialysis catheters and declotting a hemodialysis catheter. For most of the procedures that will be done here today, patients receive conscious sedation, and I am charged with administering that sedation.

The radiology techs are shorthanded today, so I also scrub up so that I can help the radiology tech drop supplies that will be needed for each procedure onto the sterile field. Once a case is complete, I’m responsible for wheeling the patient into the post-procedure recovery area and giving the report to the recovery area nurse.

12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.:

Lunch! Though my work as an interventional radiology nurse is not particularly stressful, it is extremely busy. I spend a great deal of time on my feet, so I take advantage of every opportunity to sit down.

1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.:

Three more cases have been scheduled for the angio suite this afternoon. We run into a little bit of a crisis with one of those cases: Mr. Bennett is a 54-year-old with calcified stenoses. His blood pressure reading is 200/140, so the physician has to order a hypertensive medication, and I have to administer it through his IV until his BP comes down to a therapeutic level.

We work eight-hour shifts at my hospital, so technically I’m off at 3:30, but I usually stay at least half an hour past that time to help finish up cases and complete my charting. At the hospital where I work, interventional radiology nurses are contract wage employees, so I will be approved for one-half hour of overtime.

My Final Thoughts

You now understand something about the role of the interventional radiology nurse – what is it, how to become, salary, and the pros & cons. As an interventional radiology nurse, you’ll be participating in one of the fastest-growing specialties in the realm of medicine. This nursing track requires excellent clinical skills, extensive training and (often) years of critical care experience, but in return, it offers you a high salary, almost limitless opportunities for professional growth and the chance to care for patients of all ages across a wide spectrum of medical conditions.


1. Is Becoming An Interventional Radiology Nurse A Good Career Choice?

Becoming an interventional radiology nurse is an excellent career choice for someone who is disciplined, well-organized, and task-oriented.

2. Is It Hard To Become An Interventional Radiology Nurse?

Yes, for the most part, it is difficult to become an interventional radiology nurse. Though new graduates are sometimes hired into IR positions, this is the exception rather than the rule. Generally, employers prefer to hire nurses with ER, PACU or critical care experience.

3. On Average, How Much Does An Interventional Radiology Nurse Make Per Hour?

On average, interventional radiology nurses earn $47.41 an hour. Interventional radiology nursing positions are evenly split between salaried positions and positions that pay an hourly wage.


4. Is Interventional Radiology Nursing Stressful?

Although interventional radiology nursing is extremely fast-paced, most IR RNs don’t find it particularly stressful compared with other nursing specialties.

5. How Many Hours Do Interventional Radiology Nurses Work?

Fulltime interventional radiology nurses typically work 36 to 40 hours a week.

6. Do I Need To Be Certified To Work As An Interventional Radiology Nurse?

Most employers prefer to hire interventional radiology nurses who’ve attained certification through the Radiologic Nursing Certification Board.

7. What Is The Certification For Interventional Radiology Nursing?

Certification for interventional radiology nurses is offered by the Radiologic Nursing Certification Board. In order to be certified, RNs must log a minimum of 2,000 hours in an interventional radiation setting, take 30 hours of pertinent continuing education classes and pass the Certified Radiology Nurse exam.

8. Do Interventional Radiology Nurses Make Good Money?

Interventional radiology nurses make excellent money. On average, they earn $98,623 a year.


9. Do Interventional Radiology Nurses Get Paid More Than Other Nurses?

Yes. On average, interventional radiology nurses get paid 40 percent more than the average salary for all nurses.

10. Where Do Interventional Radiology Nurses Get Paid The Most?

Interventional nurses make their highest salaries in Pacific Ocean-facing states like California and Hawaii, and northeastern states like Massachusetts and New York.

11. How Do I Become An Interventional Radiology Nurse Practitioner?

In order to become an interventional radiology nurse practitioner, you will first have to earn a Master’s of Nursing Science (MSN-NP) degree or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP-NP) degree.

Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
Pattie Trumble is a nurse who worked in both California and New York for many years as an emergency room nurse. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and an Associate Degree in Nursing from the Samuel Merritt Hospital School of Nursing. After 10 years of providing direct care, she went back to school and earned concurrent Master’s degrees in both public policy and public health from the University of California, Berkeley. Thereafter, she worked for various public health agencies in California at both the community and state levels providing economic and legislative analysis.