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Dialysis Nurse Career Guide



Dialysis nurses offer treatment and care services to patients with Chronic Kidney Disease. With the CDC reporting that 15% of all Americans deal with the condition, it is clear that this is a nursing path with a lot of professional upside and promise. If that sounds exciting to you, read on to learn more about their responsibilities, salary ranges and everything that makes them tic.


 

Overview


As a part of the larger field of nephrology nursing, Dialysis Nurses are primarily responsible for looking after patients with chronic or acute kidney problems. Without their kidneys to cleanse and filter waste, these patients require dialysis or hemodialysis in order to remove the building waste. Throughout the treatment process, they also observe patient conditions and report any changes to their condition on another team. In addition, these specialists take on a wider assortment of kidney issues.


 

Tasks and Responsibilities


Dialysis nurses take on a wide range of tasks related to dialysis and kidney care. This includes, but is not limited to:


  • Educating patient and patient families on their current condition and treatment plan

  • Applying mid-treatment medication

  • Operating, maintaining and setting up dialysis equipment together with Dialysis Technicians

  • Assisting patients with follow-ups to transplant centers

  • Scheduling treatment dates and times

  • Handling multiple dialysis patients going through treatment

  • Pre-operative and post-operative care to patients admitted to the Hemodialysis unit

  • Supervising the dialysis treatment process from beginning to end, which includes priming the dialyzer and bloodlines

  • Collecting laboratory test results when ordered, such as bloodwork

  • Creating training plans specific to each patient’s needs

  • Creating a care plan and changing things when necessary

  • Observing patient reactions to dialysis and medications

  • Monitoring and recording patient condition, vital signs and recovery progress

  • Identifying and reporting changes in patient condition or irregular dialysis reactions to the medical team

  • Postoperative follow ups with dialysis patients


 

Location


Most dialysis operations take place in outpatient clinics, hospitals and the patient houses themselves. Dialysis Nurses commonly operate in these areas, but can find work in a host of other healthcare facilities:


  • Transplant centers

  • Educational institutions

  • Home healthcare agencies

  • Long term care centers

  • Hospice centers

  • Hemodialysis centers


 

Salary


Payscale currently reports a $76,222 annual income for Dialysis Nurses, while Glassdoor places the base yearly salary at $86,704. Like with most healthcare professions, pay can be highly variable. Geographical location, additional education and especially years of experience play an important part in determining your actual income.

Per Payscale, these are the hourly salary ranges according to experience:

  • Less than one year: $31.23 per hour

  • 1-4 years: $32.72 per hour

  • 5-9 years: $34.90 per hour

  • 10-19 years: $36.72 per hour

  • 20+ years: $38 per hour


Payscale also lists the highest paying cities for Dialysis Nurses:


  • New York, NY: $40.17 per hour

  • San Francisco, CA: $40.15 per hour

  • San Diego, CA: $39.60 per hour

  • Los Angeles, CA: $38.41 per hour

  • Phoenix, AZ: $37.89 per hour

  • Houston, TX: $36.30 per hour


 

How to become a Dialysis Nurse


If you want to become a Dialysis Nurse, you need to follow a couple of steps:


Step 1: Become a Registered Nurse

To become an RN, you first need to complete an accredited BSN or ADN nursing program. While technically optional, ADN nurses should consider pursuing their BSN eventually, due to the professional benefits. Once you graduate, you must take and pass the NCLEX-RN to become a registered nurse.


Step 2: Gain Bedside Experience

Before you proceed, you want to get some hours working in bedside care. Employers are looking for workers with relevant experience in their respective fields. You are looking for two years of med/surg nursing experience (ideally in nephrology nursing).


Step 3: Earn Certifications

Finally, you want to look to get your dialysis certifications. Nurses can choose from two certifications provided by the The Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission:


Certified Nephrology Nurse (CNN)

Certified Dialysis Nurse (CDN)


 

Outlook


On the other hand, wages are relatively low compared to other specializations. Chronic disease are also challenging to deal with for nurses, both physically and mentally. As a result, facilities have struggled to retain Dialysis Nurses as a result.


Despite these concerns, dialysis nurses will be in hot demand for the coming years. As mentioned earlier, the CDC projected that 15% of all Americans have chronic kidney disease. For context, that is 37 million people. Reports from Health and Human Services also indicate that 100,000 people are in dialysis, while as much as 726,000 have end-stage renal disease.


 

Continuing Education


Just like any other RN, Telehealth Nurses have to renew their license by fulfilling a certain amount of CEU hours, paying a nominal fee and fulfilling a number of other requirements. Do note that certification requirements vary from state-to-state. You want to find your area’s specific requirements before you send your application. For more information, refer to your area’s State Board of Nursing.


Further Reading


American Association of Colleges of Nursing

American Society of Nephrology

American Nurses Association (ANA)

American Nephrology Nurses Association





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