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A dialysis nurse is a registered nurse who specializes in caring for patients undergoing hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis, both of which are life-saving procedures for those with severely impaired kidney function. Dialysis nurses fall into the general category of nephrology nursing, the branch of nursing specializing in care for patients with kidney disorders and diseases.
List your education/certifications:
Where do you work:
Usually hospitals, but I have also worked in outpatient clinics
How long have you worked this Specialty?
How/Why did you get involved? Was there someone/something that inspired you to choose this specialty?
I had been working in management for a few years..and decided I needed to get back into “hands on ” nursing..I had always been kinda scared..yet still curious about dialysis..so I jumped in a took a position at an outpatient clinic…you either love it or hate it..turns out..I love it…and the rest is history..:)
What do you do in a typical day?
After having my usual pot of coffee…I check the computer to see what the census is for the day. The next step is to call the physician on call to check acuity and see who needs to be first on the list. I get together with my team and plan the day. I perform dialysis until all the patients are finished. I do not work shift work..some days are pretty long.
What frustrates you about your job?
Its challenging when you cant take any breaks. We are generally not allowed to leave the patient at all when they are on dialysis. It is hard finding time to drink enough water, and go to the bathroom. Best advice is to work with a company that will work as hard for you as you are willing to work for them .
What about your job makes you proud to be a nurse? Is there a specific situation that stands out to you as a gratifying moment?
I love my patients, and they love me. It makes me feel so good to be able to make my patients feel comfortable with me. Make them smile, even when I’ve just stuck them with a really big needle…and they still like me. Nursing allows you to help save lives, or at least make a difference in someone’s life on a daily basis.
Do you feel you receive adequate support for your responsibilities?
I am currently on contract as a Travel Nurse and the company that I am currently with has not lived up to my expectations.
What (if anything) do you get called about on your off-hours?
What is something a nurse who does not work in your particular field might find surprising about your job?
Dialysis nurses work very long hours, and are on call a lot. There is not always a dialysis nurse at the hospital. We rely on being paged when we have orders for a patient. It is really important that off hours calls need to be emergent calls only. In addition, we are not allowed to leave the patient when they are on the machine: we are not being lazy when we ask for meds or, if you see us sitting sometimes its because you have to at some point..:) Dialysis nurses are also on our cell phones a lot. This is how we keep in contact with our team and the nephrologists.
Does your position involve teamwork, or is it more of an individual job?
As a dialysis nurse, you are part of a team. However, you are usually alone when you run your patients. This is the reason we have a pager and a cell, to keep communication going
Did you position require any extra training besides on-the-job training that you were required to complete?
Yes. I was trained at an outpatient clinic when I first started with dialysis. Then when I moved on to doing Acute (inpatient) dialysis, I was trained in a hospital based dialysis program.
One of the biggest complaints given by hospital unit-based nurses is that they rarely have time to eat or go to the bathroom. Do you find that to be the case with your job as well?
Always…it is even worse for us since we cant leave the patient during treatment.
What is your definition of “poop hitting the fan?”
When my day is already so busy that I don’t know how I’ll finish and I get even more patients added. I wonder sometimes how I will ever get everyone done.
Are there travel opportunities in your specialty?
Yes, there seem to be opportunities in most states. I get updates on travel jobs on a regular basis.
Is there any specific advice you would give a nurse pursuing your specialty?
If you think you would like it..give it a try…you just may find that you love it…there are always job opportunities in specialty fields.
Are you a Specialty Nurse? Would you like to share your story? Contact me via the ‘Submit a Specialty Interview” button below. I would love to hear about your specialty.
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