Dialysis nurses, also called nephrology nurses, manage the care of patients who have impaired kidney function. Dialysis filters the blood to remove toxins, returns needed electrolytes, and removes extra fluid that the kidneys normally would excrete. Dialysis nurses deliver care to both adults and children who have developed kidney disease.
Many of the patients have end-stage renal disease. This condition can be treated using hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis. Dialysis nurses are skilled technicians in both running the machines that provide this life-saving treatment and carefully monitoring patients to make sure they tolerate the procedure. In addition, they anticipate changes in the patient’s blood pressure from shifts in blood volume and must always be on alert for other potentially serious reactions.
Dialysis nurses also manage the care of those with acute episodes of renal failure, such as those in the ICU recovering from a severe illness or other medical conditions that have overtaxed their kidneys. Whether dialysis is needed temporarily or long-term, the dialysis nurse must teach patients and families what to expect and how to manage changes in their daily lives.
Dialysis nurses often receive advanced training to improve their skills. Some become advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) either as certified nephrology nurse practitioners (CNN-NPs) or clinical nurse specialists (CNSs).