Dialysis is a treatment that removes excess fluid and waste from the blood when the kidneys are unable to. From the effects on the body to normal and abnormal lab values, nurses in this field work with patients who need dialyses for kidney failure due to illnesses like high blood pressure and diabetes. Often, these patients are in very serious condition, and nurses must have an expertise with the dialysis machine to perform care on these patients.
Some dialysis nurses primarily do dialysis and nothing else. Other nurses in this field however perform patient assessments, take orders from a nephrologist, report assessments to the physician, and fill out paperwork. Others give necessary medication for patients to keep them safe and comfortable during dialysis. Due to their limited duties, workers in dialysis nursing are often paid less than floor nurses; this could be the reason for such a shortage in dialysis nurses.
In dialysis nursing, nurses focus on renal and hematologic systems, managing fluid and electrolytes, monitoring hemodynamics, and having vascular access. Patients rely on dialysis nurses to keep their moods upbeat while undergoing treatment. Today, many treatments can be done in a patient’s home several times a week, which can bring patients and nurses close together. Nurses in this field often work with patients who are long-term, and see patients consistently for months or even years.
Dialysis nurses can also work in hospitals, acute dialysis units, or for private companies who are contracted to perform dialysis on patients. Dialysis nurses must have at least two years experience in a surgical/medical position or Intensive Care Unit, as well as adaptability, flexibility, excellent communication skills, a sense of humor, knowledge about computers, and well-developed time management skills.
To become involved in dialysis nursing, you will need an advanced nursing degree. The University of Phoenix offers the following online nursing degree programs:
» Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Click for more info)
» Master of Science in Nursing (Click for more info)
» Or see online LPN to BSN, RN to BSN, or general nursing programs