Renal Dialysis Nurse: Education Requirements and Career Overview

Sep 09, 2019

A renal dialysis nurse requires formal undergraduate nursing education. Learn about the education, job duties and certification requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Most nurses complete a bachelor's degree in nursing before obtaining their nursing license. Although it may be possible to begin a career in nursing with a diploma or associate's degree, there are more opportunities for advancement with a bachelor's degree. Renal dialysis nurses care for patients with kidney disease. Certification in dialysis is voluntary but may increase job prospects for nurses wishing to focus on this area of specialization.

Essential Information

A renal dialysis nurse, also called a nephrology nurse, is a certified registered nurse specializing in caring for patients with inherited or acquired kidney disease who need hemodialysis treatment. Renal dialysis nurses can work in acute or chronic care settings like hospitals, homes, clinics or doctor's offices. To become an registered nurse (RN), a student must complete an undergraduate program in nursing and pass the RN licensure exam. RNs can then acquire work experience in nephrology nursing to qualify for the dialysis nurse certification exam.

Required Education Undergraduate degree or diploma
Other Requirements Nursing license
Certification Voluntary certification in dialysis nursing available
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 12% for all registered nurses
Median Salary (2018)* $71,730 for all registered nurses

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements to Become a Renal Dialysis Nurse

A candidate must be a licensed registered nurse in order to sit for the certified dialysis nurse exam. Aspiring registered nurses may earn either a nursing diploma, an associate's degree in nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Degree completion programs are possible for licensed vocational nurses seeking an associate's degree and for associate's degree in nursing graduates seeking a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. All of these degree options prepare graduates to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam.

Nursing coursework includes classroom lectures and supervised clinical work. Students learn about patient evaluation procedures and standards of care for children and adults. In addition to gaining decision-making, leadership and management skills, individuals study research and statistics. Additional course topics include anatomy and physiology, microbiology, pharmacology, pathology, nutrition, community nursing and public health. Students may also complete work in other areas, like pregnancy and childbirth, mental health care and nephrology.

Certification Requirements

Registered nurses need to have 2,000 hours or more of recent experience in nephrology nursing to qualify for the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission's certified dialysis nurse exam. They need to have cared for dialysis patients within two years. Candidates are also required to complete 15 contact hours of continuing education in nephrology nursing.

Career Overview of Renal Dialysis Nursing

Renal dialysis nurses provide direct patient care to children and adults requiring hemodialysis for renal disease in an acute-care setting, such as a hospital, or a chronic-care setting, like a clinic or doctor's office. They know how to operate equipment that filters patients' waste products from their bodies when their kidneys fail to do so. A renal dialysis nurse should know how to repair and maintain related equipment. Another part of the job is being familiar with kidney disorders, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or substance abuse.

Salary and Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), bachelor's degree holders typically have greater potential for career advancement due to their more varied clinical experience and coursework in leadership and management. The BLS reported that the median annual salary for registered nurses was $71,730 in May 2018 and that registered nurses can look forward to 12% job growth between 2018 and 2028, although the type of care setting might cause some fluctuation.

The job growth projected for registered nurses from 2018-2028 is much faster than average compared to all occupations, making for excellent job prospects. Registered nurses with a diploma, associate's, or bachelor's degree have good job prospects; however, those wishing to specialize or advance may want to complete their bachelor's degree. Renal dialysis nurses can pursue certification with requisite hours of experience and continuing education credits in nephrology.

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