DXA Scanning by Nurses
New Education Standards to Support Nurses to Undertake DXA Scanning


Earlier this month, we published new educational standards and requirements to regulate the practice of Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA) scanning by nurses. 

DXA is a modern technology which combines X-rays, a computer and software which provides quantitative and qualitative assessment of body tissues.

As a professional regulator, we are responsible for setting standards for the education and training of nurses and midwives to ensure the protection of the public and the integrity of the professions. We developed these standards following the transposition of a European Directive which requires new education standards to ensure public and staff safety when nurses perform bone density scans, also known as DXA, using ionising radiation (X-ray). This marks the first education standards published by a regulator in Ireland in this area of practice. 

The new requirements aim to ensure a standardised approach to DXA education programmes and to ensure that nurses are competent to administer a DXA scan to adult service users in a healthcare setting following completion of the education programme. The standards set out the key aims of ensuring nursing practice in this area is safe, compassionate, professional and accountable. 

The document explains the legislative frameworks and the standards required for education bodies and their associated healthcare providers who are developing, delivering and evaluating educational programmes.  

We launched the standards and requirements at a webinar, with over 50 stakeholders with an interest in the area of ionising radiation and nursing education programmes attending.  

Welcoming the publication, our CEO Sheila McClelland said: “These standards and requirements will guide education bodies to develop education programmes for nurses carrying out DXA scans, in line with Irish and EU legislation. The standards focus on the safety of the person receiving a DXA scan to minimise exposure to radiation, ensuring patient safety is always at the forefront of nursing practice. NMBI is the first regulator in the country to introduce standards of this kind and we hope they will contribute to public safety and provide nurses with the required training and competence in DXA scanning.

“I want to thank all the stakeholders who engaged with us in support of the development and implementation of these important new standards, and who attended our recent launch event. We look forward to working with education bodies as education programmes are developed and rolled out for the nursing profession.”

The webinar heard contributions from Carolyn Donohoe, NMBI’s Director of Education, Policy and Standards, NMBI’s Professional Officers Mary Devane and Lorraine Clarke Bishop, and Bernadette Moran, a Radiographic Adviser.

Speaking at the launch, Carolyn said: “The development and implementation of standards of practice and education is a key function of our role as a regulator. This document aims to support education bodies and associated healthcare providers to develop high-quality training and education for nurses in this area of practice, which will ensure quality and safe services to all patients. The document also provides guidance for nurses on what to expect from the education programme. We look forward to working with our stakeholders to ensure these standards support the training and development of nurses to provide DXA scans within their scope of practice.”

We developed the standards with the support of a national interdisciplinary group, including representatives from the HSE and Irish DXA Society. We also engaged with the regulators of ionising radiation, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Health Information and Quality Authority.

Nurses Undertaking the Practical Aspects of Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DXA) Scanning for Adults (1st Edition) is now available on our website.