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How to Become a Dialysis Nurse

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A dialysis registered nurse plays a critical role in supporting patients who have kidney disease. Also known as nephrology nursing, a dialysis nurse administers dialysis and educates patients about how they can best manage their condition. In addition to becoming a registered nurse, a dialysis nurse must seek specialized training to become eligible to work in this field. Expect to spend a minimum of two years working in a dialysis unit prior to becoming certified in this specialty area.

Review the Dialysis Nurse Job Description

Patients who suffer from kidney failure must undergo dialysis on a regular basis to stay alive. Some patients have short-term conditions that require dialysis, and others visit a dialysis center until they receive a kidney transplant. A dialysis nurse job description includes all aspects of patient care during the dialysis process. A few of the common duties of a dialysis nurse include:

  • Conduct patient intake and assessment
  • Provide education about kidney disease and explain the treatment process
  • Administer and oversee dialysis treatment
  • Review prescribed medications and answer patient questions
  • Assess patient tolerance to the dialysis treatment
  • Provide life-saving measures for patients in distress
  • Communicate with physicians about patient progress
  • Serve as a conduit with transplant physicians and centers
  • Work with other staff during the treatment process

Attain a Registered Nursing Degree

The road to becoming a dialysis registered nurse begins by earning a degree in nursing. It’s best to pursue a Bachelor of Science in nursing to be competitive for this career opportunity. This four-year college degree includes a combination of coursework and practical experience.

You’ll take classes like biology, nursing theory, pharmacology, holistic nursing assessment practices, safety and informatics, nursing skills and anatomy and physiology. You’ll also gain practical skills and participate in clinical rotations.

The final requirement is passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. You can continue your education by becoming an advanced practice nurse or go straight into the work world.

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Pursue Dialysis Nurse Training

If your goal is to become a dialysis registered nurse, seek a position in a medical facility that specializes in this practice. Often, dialysis clinics and hospitals will provide dialysis nurse training for nurses who are new to the field.

Once you’ve worked for 2,000 hours in a dialysis clinic, you can become a certified nephrology nurse by passing an examination administered by the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission. This dialysis nurse certification may increase your pay and open the door to leadership opportunities. You’ll also have to complete continuing education units to remain certified in some states.

Consider Job Opportunities

You can serve as a dialysis registered nurse in specialty clinics and hospitals. Most clinics have daytime shifts, but hospitals often provide dialysis around the clock. Once you’ve developed an expertise in the field of nephrology, you can seek positions like a transplant coordinator, dialysis nurse manager or organ recovery coordinator.

You can also become a nephrology case manager to serve as a main contact for patients who are experiencing kidney disease. Seniority in a facility will ensure that you can secure an optimal work schedule that meets your needs.

Consider the Pay and Job Outlook

In 2018, the average pay for a registered nurse was $34.48 per hour, or $71,730 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Government medical facilities may pay more. As a specialist in dialysis, you may find higher wages, especially if you serve in a leadership or management role.

The expected job growth in this field is 15 percent between now and 2026. Credentials in a specialty role like dialysis will afford you a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

About the Author

Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years. She has numerous publications with Talico, Inc., DynaTEAM Consulting, Inc. and Kinect Education Group.

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