A dialysis nurse is a registered nurse specialized in nephrology nursing. His/her work involves taking care of patients with impaired kidney function undergoing hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis. The dialysis nurse must have an intricate knowledge of the mechanics of both types of dialysis; administer the dialysis from start to finish; discuss and explain concerns and answer relevant questions of the patient; and monitor and asses the patient’s vital signs and reaction to treatment.
The dialysis nurse is responsible for primary nursing duties for patients with kidney disease, which include routine assessments, determining risks, starting and monitoring dialysis, administering transfusions if necessary, recording chart data and information for the nephrologists or kidney doctors to assess the patient’s condition, as well as educating the patient about his or her treatment. The nurse must also check on and ensure the function of the machine and other necessary equipment during dialysis, training other staff or family members in the proper usage of the dialysis machines and safety protocols for those who require the procedure in their own homes.
Education and Training Requirements
It is necessary to have a degree in nursing and to get licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN). To become a Certified Dialysis Nurse (CDN), a nurse must complete 2,000 hours of work over the previous two years with renal patients, and to meet the requirements for applying for the CDN credential and to pass the dialysis certification exam. The CDN credential may be renewed after three years by applying for a recertification or by re-taking the CDN examination.
Knowledge and Skills Requirements
A dialysis nurse must be physically and mentally prepared to quickly deal with the patient’s needs, be able to work efficiently under pressure, have technical proficiency, be able to work well with a team or take charge if required, and possess exceptional patient interaction and communication skills.
The dialysis nurse works mostly on their feet in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, but some may have to travel often to patients’ homes to facilitate home dialysis. Work schedules include night-shifts, weekends and holidays, and may even be on-call at times. Risks may involve muscle strain and injuries, shocks from electrical equipment and exposure to compressed gas.
Dialysis nurse jobs are very well compensated and may earn around $55,000 to $75,000 annually. Compensation and salary may vary due to educational credentials, years of experience, and the location and size of the healthcare facility they are employed in. A dialysis nurse may also work up to a supervisory position.