Dialysis Nurse


The first dialyzer was built in 1943 by Dr. Willem Kolff.  Nurses have been administering dialysis treatments since this technology started to be used.  The first outpatient dialysis center was born in 1962 and this was largely staffed by trained nurses.  The last seven decades have seen tremendous growth in dialysis technology, with different types of dialysis being discovered.

Nurses are the primary healthcare workers who administer dialysis and provide patient care during dialysis administration.



Dialysis Nurse Salary

The average dialysis nurse salary is $70,636 per year.  The lowest 10 percent earn about $52,158 per year and the highest 10 percent earn an average of $90,459 per year.

Where you work and where your employer is located are the two primary factors that influence how much money you earn as a dialysis nurse.  Your individual dialysis nurse training, level of education, whether or not you are certified and the size of your employer will all play a role in your total salary.


Dialysis Nurse Job Description

The dialysis nurse job description is varied and exactly what you do will depend on where you work.  For example, some dialysis nurses will work in major hospitals and either go to patient rooms to perform dialysis or they will work in a unit that does dialysis.  There are also options at outpatient clinics and specific dialysis centers.  There are many opportunities when it comes to this type of nursing.  The following duties and tasks may be performed by this type of nurse:

  • Administer dialysis to patients of all ages and health statuses
  • Monitor patients during dialysis
  • Administer any necessary additional medications or fluids
  • Coordinate care with other nurses and doctors
  • Provide patient education
  • Advocate for patients
  • Work as a team with other staff on the unit
  • Ensure that the equipment is working properly
  • Create nursing care plans and execute them
  • Assess patients before, during and after treatment


Dialysis Nurse Education

When you are looking at how to become a dialysis nurse, the first requirement you will find is that you need a degree that will lead to licensure as a registered nurse.  To become a registered nurse, you can choose to pursue an Associate Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.  The associate degree path will take approximately two years and the bachelor’s degree path will take approximately four years to complete.

Whether you choose the bachelor’s degree or the associate degree route, your education will involve both classroom and clinical hours.  Nursing schools will also have a laboratory component where you will initially learn things like inserting Foley catheters, inserting and maintaining intravenous lines and how to properly assess vital signs and give injections.  The following classes are commonly part of a nursing school curriculum for registered nurses:

  • Pediatric nursing
  • Pharmacology
  • Medical surgical nursing
  • Nutrition
  • Geriatric nursing
  • Lifespan and human development
  • Obstetrical nursing
  • Pathophysiology
  • Psychiatric nursing
  • Microbiology
  • Nursing fundamentals
  • Acute care nursing
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Health assessment

Once you have your degree and your license, you will find that some employers will require you to have some registered nursing experience before hiring you onto a dialysis unit, or into a dialysis clinic.  However, there are entry level positions for dialysis nursing as some employers do like to be able to train nurses that are fresh out of school because they have not really developed any habits yet.


Dialysis Nurse Certification and Licensing

The first license you pursue will be your registered nursing license and this is granted when you successfully pass your National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.  Once you have this license, you can begin work as a registered nurse.  As a dialysis nurse, you will also want to look into your Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certificate and your Nephrology Nurse certificate.

ACLS provides you with the knowledge and skills to handle advanced life support situations.  It requires a two-day class that covers an extensive amount of lecture and hands-on coursework.  Your days will last about six hours and there is an examination at the end that you must pass to get the certification.  Then, every two years you will need to renew this certificate with a one-day, seven-hour refresher course.

The following criterion must be met to apply for the Nephrology Nursing certificate:

  • Unrestricted registered nursing license
  • At least a bachelor’s degree in nursing
  • At least 3,000 hours practicing as a nephrology nurse in the last three years
  • At least 30 continuing education credits related to nephrology nursing in the last three years
  • Successfully pass the examination

After three years, you will need to renew this certification.  To renew you must meet the following:

  • Have a current Nephrology Nurse certificate
  • Have been employed at least 50 percent of the time as a nephrology nurse
  • Have at least 1,000 hours in nephrology nursing
  • Have an unrestricted RN license
  • Have 45 hours of nephrology continuing education


Dialysis Nurse Job Outlook

The outlook for dialysis nurses is very strong.  It is estimated that between 2008 and 2018, the need for this type of nurse will increase by 22 percent.  This is a much faster pace than most other jobs in the United States.

There are many things that play a role in this level of growth.  In the United States, the population is quickly aging and many kidney diseases can come with aging.  Greater access to healthcare will come in 2014 and this means that more and more people may require dialysis because more diagnoses will be made.  Nurses are also retiring at a high rate due to aging and reaching retirement age.  This will lead to a major increase in the number of jobs available to new nurses.



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