A dialysis, renal (nephrology or urology), peritoneal, or hemodialysis nurse are all job titles that refer to a nurse with advanced qualifications who provides specialist nursing care for patients undergoing treatment for severe dysfunction or impairment of the kidney. These patients require care from a nurse who has been trained to use technologically advanced dialysis equipment as part of the treatment for transplants or chronic kidney disease.
Dialysis RNs are a specialised type of nephrology nurse. These professionals often work independently, have additional advanced training and experience focusing on kidney disease, and are instrumental in helping patients manage their treatments as well as educating their families in the type of care needed.
These nurses mainly perform primary nursing duties for kidney disease patients, such as carrying out routine nursing assessments, determining risk factors that may affect the patient, educating the patient on his or her treatment, starting and monitoring dialysis, and administering transfusions where required. During dialysis, the nurse also checks on the function of the machine, the patient's vital signals, and ends the procedure at the appropriate time. For patients who require dialysis in their own homes, such as bedridden patients, the dialysis nurses are responsible for training other staff or family members in the proper usage of the dialysis machines and safety protocols. They also provide nursing support for patients both before and after renal transplantation, and determine dietary and medication requirements. More complex cases require the dialysis nurse to initiate end-of-life care and acute dialysis procedures, as well as working with multidisciplinary nursing and medical professionals.
A registered nurse qualification requires that nurses have a degree in nursing (associate's or bachelor's degree) and have passed the national licensing exam (NCLEX-RN), which allows them to hold a nursing license and qualifies them to practice in the United States and its territories. In order to become a dialysis nurse, the RN is usually trained on the job; however, specific college courses are available to provide theoretical education in nephrology nursing. These are brief (several weeks' or several months' duration) courses but highly expensive; therefore, most nurses prefer to find a position with a company that will provide their training as well as their wages during this period. Nurses with some training and experience in critical care, such as those having worked in intensive care units, are preferred to those without critical care exposure.
Organizations such as the Center for Nursing Education and Testing (New Jersey) do provide certification for nephrology nurses. The Certified Dialysis Nurse (CDN) requires the RN to have at least one year of experience with a minimum of 2000 hours spent working in dialysis nursing, in addition to 15 hours of continuing education in the subject of nephrology nursing. This must be completed not more than two years before attempting to become certified.
These nurses may practice either inpatient or outpatient dialysis and can also coordinate and/or provide education for other dialysis staff, such as dialysis technicians, or other nurses in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. Dialysis nurses can choose between working with either chronic or acute care units, and also for smaller or private clinics.
According to Salary.com, renal dialysis nurses earn an average of £42,250 per year, depending on the individual's experience and duration of work.