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Working as a Nephrology or Dialysis Nurse

Updated on December 1, 2014
As a nephrology nurse you will care for patients that have kidney failure.
As a nephrology nurse you will care for patients that have kidney failure. | Source

Nephrology Nursing

Nephrology nursing is a rewarding career choice, it is a career filled with challenges that fill your work-days with new experiences. As a nephrology nurse, you will care for patients with end stage renal or kidney disease. Their kidneys are no longer able to function at the level needed to perform the necessary physiological functions necessary for life.


After working a certain amount of hours as a nephrology nurse, you can study for your certification. Certifications are available for a registered nurse with an associates degree or for a registered nurse with a bachelors degree. A registered nurse with an associates degree can take the CDN or Certified Dialysis Nurse test and a registered nurse with a bachelors degree can take the CNN or Certified Nephrology Nurse test. Having this certification opens the door to many more opportunities and a higher compensation rate. The certification is also assurance to employers that you know your job well.

Interdisciplinary Team

Nephrology nurses work alongside members of a health care team who form the interdisciplinary team. This team works together with the common goal of meeting the health needs of the patient. The nephrologist is the doctor who specializes in kidney diseases. He or she will be the one who orders the type of care the patient needs. A dietitian will evaluate the patients' diet and lab work to make sure they are receiving the right amount of nutrients and protein. A social worker is present to address any ethical, financial or emotional needs and the social worker is the person who gets the interdisciplinary team together periodically to discuss the progress of each patient. The patient and their loved ones are invited and encouraged to attend their individual interdisciplinary meetings.

The interdisciplinary team is responsible for the care of a dialysis patient.
The interdisciplinary team is responsible for the care of a dialysis patient. | Source

Out-patient dialysis centers

Nephrology nurses work as charge nurses and managers in out-patient dialysis centers. The charge nurse is a registered nurse who supervises the dialysis technicians, who provide direct care for the patients. They make sure the prescription written by the nephrologist for treatment is programmed correctly in the dialysis machine and that each patient is receiving a good treatment. The charge nurse works under the direction of a nurse manager who runs the dialysis center. The nurse manager is responsible for the safe operation of the clinic and the hiring of new personnel,


Some hospitals have an inpatient dialysis unit. The patients in these units are not stable enough for outpatient dialysis services or they may be hospitalized for other conditions and require dialysis while they are hospitalized. A registered nurse will dialyze a patient in the hospital after a dialysis technician prepares and programs the machine for treatment. You will work under a nephrologist who is always on duty in the hospital and who orders the treatment for the patient.


There are travel agencies dedicated to finding short or long-term assignments for nephrology nurses. As a travel nephrology nurse, you will have the opportunity to work in the state of your choice or overseas. Travel nurses are compensated more than nurses who work permanently and their rent is usually paid 100% wherever they stay. If a travel nurse chooses to stay with family or friends while completing an assignment, the agency usually pays them a generous stipend. Health and other benefits are available for travel nephrology nurses.

Dialysis Cruise Nurse

Imagine working as a nephrology cruise nurse. You will be responsible for administering dialysis to passengers who are traveling on cruises who need treatments. While working on a cruise ship, you'll be able to enjoy the voyages of the ship and experience the exciting places they go.


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      Ashish 2 years ago

      There is absolutely notinhg wrong with that. Some people are satisfied exactly where there are-no matter what they are. Many CNA's do not want to become RN's. Being an RN is a lot of responsibility. After being a CNA, many can not fathom being responsible for more no matter the pay. I personally, am in the process of going to school to become an RN, however I see noting wrong with those who do not want to be.Only you can best judge what field you would be best in. It definitely seems like you have interest in the medical field. I would suggest you continue to follow through with whatever goals you may have, especially since it seems your heart is set on it. Many people are getting into the medical field because they are the most recession proof jobs. You could experience the best of both worlds!Good Luck

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      Carrie L. Cronkite 2 years ago from Maine

      Thank you Max for your comments, nursing is a great job - one which I truly enjoy. I totally agree with you that dialysis techs should get paid more than they so. They has a big responsibility and go a great job! The best to you too!

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      Max 2 years ago

      Absolutely.I am an RN, and I would rather work with a CNA who is kewaledgnoble and cares about the job than someone who is ONLY using it as a stepping stone. Nursing is tough, and if I did not love it, and want to be a nurse from the time I was a little girl, it would have been impossible.Actually, the last clinical job I worked was as a dialysis nurse, and I have the same comment a great tech made the day go very well. Things were organized, I did not have to worry about the patients, because I knew they were well cared for.One thing is check the salary when one of the techs, who was my friend, told me what she was making, I was appalled. It was around 12/hr. Techs have much responsibility, and can affect the patient either very positively or very negatively.I believe that the right career path for you is the one where you enjoy your job, and do not hate getting out of bed each day.I wish you the best!

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      Carrie L. Cronkite 5 years ago from Maine

      Thank you DeBorrah for stopping by, happy you enjoyed this hub! Nephrology nursing is a great occupation, I do love it.

    • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

      DeBorrah K Ogans 5 years ago

      Creativelycc, Very interesting and informative hub on the occupation of a Nephrology & Dialysis nurse. Voted UP! Peace & Blessings!

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      Carrie L. Cronkite 5 years ago from Maine

      Thank you very much mary615 for your comments. Your body can still function just as well with one kidney, but you are right, you have to take good care of it. I'll check out your hub!

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      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      This subject is interesting to me. I lost a kidney due to stones. I wrote a Hub encouraging people to drink lots of water to avoid kidney stones. When you have some time, check it out. I try to take care of the one kidney I have left so I don't wind up on dialysis. This Hub was very informative. I'll vote it UP, etc.

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      Carrie L. Cronkite 5 years ago from Maine

      Thank you very much Stella44, don't give up on your dream of obtaining your BSN. Once you get past the sciences, most of the other classes are theory based with lots of writing. Hang in there! The best to you!

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      Stella44 5 years ago from Ohio

      Last year I went back to college in pursuit of a BSN. The universities have made it very challenging for a post-bac student and entrance into the college of nursing wasn't as easy as they made it sound. I took a general,organic bio-chemistry class and about pulled my hair out! I have a serious respect for nurses because the knowledge they have is outstanding. The curriculum is tough. Kudos to you!

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      Carrie L. Cronkite 5 years ago from Maine

      Thank you very much Nell!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, and a good job they do too! We can never be too grateful for our nurses, and in nephrology which is so important they are literally a life safer, rated up and shared, nell

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      Carrie L. Cronkite 5 years ago from Maine

      You are very welcome thumbi7. I'm sure one day this specialty will be developed in India too!

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      JR Krishna 5 years ago from India

      Thank you for educating me on the scope of nephrology nursing. In India, these specialities are still not developed.

      Thanks for SHARING:)