Dialysis Nurse: Job Responsibilities, Requirements and Career Outlook

Working as a dialysis nurse requires some formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and licensure to see if this is the right career for you.

Essential Information

A dialysis nurse administers treatment to patients with kidney disease to remove toxins and excess water. To become a dialysis nurse one must be a registered nurse and pass the state licensing exam for nursing. Specialty certification for dialysis nurses is also available. Additionally, some employers may require previous work experience.

Required Education Associate's or bachelor's degree in registered nursing
Other Requirements State licensing is required; all RNs must pass the National Council Licensure Examination - Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN); voluntary certification program available through the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 19% for all registered nurses*
Median Salary (2013) $66,220 for all registered nurses*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Responsibilities

A dialysis nurse may work in the dialysis department of a hospital, a dialysis clinic or a physician's office. The main job is administering dialysis treatments to patients with kidney disease; patients who have experienced renal failure require fluid injections that replicate the function of the kidney. The dialysis nurse typically operates a hemodialysis machine that extracts blood from the patient, cleans it and return into the body.

Their responsibilities include monitoring patient vital signs, communicating procedure details with patients and assessing the effectiveness of procedures, as well as being responsible for work area cleanliness. It is also the responsibility of the dialysis nurse to be sympathetic, caring, patient, positive and responsible when caring for patients.

Dialysis treatments are also one of the main responsibilities of a nephrology nurse. The terms dialysis nurse and nephrology nurse are often interchangeable; however, a nephrology nurse is involved in all aspects of treatment of patients with kidney problems, including dialysis.

Education Requirements

A dialysis nurse must be a registered nurse (RN). This title can be obtained by completing an Associate of Science in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and passing a state licensing exam. The licensing exam is called the National Council Licensure Examination - Registered Nurse (NCLEX - RN). Some employers require that applicants have a minimum of two years experience as a registered nurse before being hired as a dialysis nurse.

The Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission offers a certification program for registered nurses who wish to become a Certified Dialysis Nurse. Certification requires two years of experience as a registered nurse, 2,000 hours of working with patients on dialysis and 15 hours of approved continuing education credits; it must be renewed every three years.

Career Outlook

Although there is no specific data available regarding dialysis nurses, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of registered nurses nationwide is expected to increase by 19% between the years 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov); this number is faster than the average. The BLS notes that strong growth is expected in physician's offices, hospitals and home healthcare services.

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