Hemodialysis Nurse Training – How Can I Specialize in this Field?
End Stage Renal Disease and Kidney Failure are the critical medical conditions that require specialized hemodialysis nurse training. Hemodialysis is the procedure of removing the blood from the patient’s body and circulating through an exterior filtering machine, and then returning the cleaned blood back into the body. Nurses and technicians hook up the machines and monitor the patient’s vital signs and fluid pressures while the filtering is in process.
This procedure is performed for the patient three times a week, minimally, and is usually done in an outpatient facility. Home dialysis is availableand the initial dialysis is usually performed in a hospital setting at the onset of kidney failure.
A hemodialysis nurse is one that supervises the practical nurse and technician at the hemodialysis facility. The hemodialysis nurse is also the primary educator of the patient in terms of personal care, medications, and warning signs and symptoms of the disease progression. The hemodialysis nurse charts the patient’s progress and informs the doctor of the patient’s current condition and needs.
Duties, Tasks and Working Environment of the Hemodialysis Nurse
The hemodialysis nurse has a variety of nursing settings from which to choose their employment. They can be employed in a hospital facility in a dialysis or diabetes unit, at a dialysis facility that specializes only in hemodialysis, or in a home health care environment that monitors the progress of the patient in their home or skilled patient facility, like a nursing home. The nurse will assess the patient, weigh the patient (done before and after each procedure to monitor fluid intake), take the history and record the current status of the patient for physician review, dispense medications and evaluate their effectiveness for the patient, consult with the patient and the physician regarding transplant options, attach the patient to the hemodialysis unit, care for the patient during the fluid transfer, and teach the patient how to use the unit at home, if it is appropriate. The nurse has to be able to read and write instructions clearly and to articulate to both the patient and the physician the current assessment of the patient’s condition. The nurse must constantly evaluate the patient’s progress as dialysis is a critical concern and a life sustaining activity.
Education Requirements for the Hemodialysis Nurse
Hemodialysis nurse training is a specialized field for the nurse and requires additional training beyond the initial nursing degree.
For the licensed or practical nurse, hemodialysis training is available through local vocational schools or through hemodialysis education facilities. The need for special nurses is so strong that the hemodialysis companies have sponsored schools for the certification needed. To be accepted as a student, the licensed nurse needs a current certification and a current CPR certification.
For the registered nurse or the licensed practical nurse, the course offering to specialize in hemodialysis is sixteen weeks long and includes classroom instruction and on-the-job practical training.
Salary and Job Opportunities for Hemodialysis Nurses
Artificial kidney machines were not invented for consumer use until the 1960s, so this is a growing and emerging field. Each year more people are diagnosed with diabetes, the primary aggressor in End Stage Renal Disease. As more people age with this disease, unfortunately more people will require kidney dialysis. The need for technicians and hemodialysis nurse training is growing more every day. Nurses with a Master of Science are often managers and supervisors of the clinical facilities.
Beginning licensed or practical hemodialysis nurses can expect to make $25 per hour/ per patient and a registered nurse about $50 per hour/per patient:that would be about $500 for every three hourswith the average patient load of an RN. A nurse sometimes works an 8-hour shift and sometimes a 12-hour shift; this depends upon the facility. If the registered nurse is working a 40 hour week on three 12-hour shifts, the annual salary expectation would be $160,000 to start. There will be additional benefits and compensation with this high paying position.
How to Get a Hemodialysis Nurse Job
Begin with getting the Bachelor of Science in Nursing from a college or university. After completing the state board examination, begin working for a hospital facility with a dialysis unit. Work for this facility in this capacity for a minimum of one year for the experience of working with critical patients. Apply to a hemodialysis nurse training facility for the certification specialty. Complete the coursework and the certification test and you are on your way to a very rewarding field.