Nephrology Nurse Information
Health care professionals serve an important purpose in helping to care for people when they become ill. There are various kinds of health care professionals, such as physicians, nurses, physical therapists and others. Nurses play an important role in assisting physicians and helping the patient. However, not all nursing work is the same because there are various nursing specialties. Nephrology is one such nursing specialty. The following article is about how to become a nepthrology nurse.
1. Go to college and get at least an RN degree in nursing but preferably a bachelor's degree in nursing (the BSN degree). Pass the NCLEX exam (National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse) and become an entry-level licensed nurse in whichever state you wish to practice nursing in. The RN or BSN degree will give you general preparation to practice as a licensed nurse. That is a necessary foundation upon which to build basic nursing skills and then eventually build nephrology nursing skills.
2. Work as a nurse in a work setting that gives you experience in kidney disease care. Do this for 1 or 2 years. This will enable you to have a specialty in nephrology nursing. It is not necessary to do this through a school. Just gaining work experience in kidney disease care will suffice at this time. You will be gaining skills and learning about things such as hemodialysis, renal replacement therapy or other therapies.
3. Get a master's degree in nursing as either a clinical specialist or a nurse practitioner specializing in nephrology nursing. The master's degree will give you an added educational credential that will enhance your resume and demonstrate your clinical expertise in kidney disease care.
4. Continue to gain education as a nephrology nurse through symposiums, workshops or classes. For example, the American Nephrology Nurses Association has education sessions, workshops and online courses for nephrology nurses each year.
5. Seek formal certification in nephrology nursing via the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission. The certification can be professionally helpful since it demonstrates that you are qualified and knowledgeable in nephrology nursing. After that you are qualified to work in various work settings such as education (as a nursing instructor), nursing research, case management, pediatric nursing or government health care settings.
Nephrology nurses provide care for patients with kidney failure. All registered nurses are directly involve with patient care, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Registered nurses provide essential instructions to patients, their families and their caregivers regard post-treatment care. Nephrology nurses have additional training that prepares them to treat the special needs of patients who are experiencing chronic or acute kidney failure.
Nephrology nursing practice requires a common
knowledge base to care for pediatric, adult, and geriatric patients with
kidney disease. The roles of the nephrology nurse include the following:
- Staff nurse, hospital or outpatient settings
- Hemodialysis/peritoneal dialysis nurse
- Vascular access coordinator
- Nurse manager
- Transplant coordinator
- Organ recovery coordinator
- Office nurse
- Nurse practitioner
- Clinical nurse specialist
- Pharmaceutical representative
- Nurse researcher
- Quality management
- Nurse educator
- State or federal surveyor
Care may be extremely complex: patients may
have numerous comorbid conditions including, but not limited to,
cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, infectious disease, bone
disease, or psychiatric conditions. In addition, many face psychosocial
issues. The nurse’s role is to help patients manage their lives –
succeed at school or work, socialize, maintain relationships, or enjoy
hobbies – while effectively dealing with their health issues. It is
important to note that not all patients with kidney disease require
dialysis and/or transplant; the majority of the diseases that affect the
kidneys are treatable and potentially able to be arrested or even cured.
Some patients may elect conservative management and palliative care. In
these cases, one of the nephrology nurse’s primary roles is to educate
patients about their diseases, prognoses, and treatments.
Nephrology nurses practice in dialysis clinics,
hospitals, physician practices, transplant programs, and many other
inpatient and outpatient settings. They work in primary, secondary, and
tertiary care facilities as well as in patients’ homes – wherever
individuals experiencing or at risk for kidney disease receive health
care. In inpatient settings, patients are often critically ill and care
is fast-paced and challenging. In outpatient settings, the nephrology
nurse is an integral member of a multidisciplinary team that cares for
patients with complex needs. The nurse in this setting functions as
advocate, educator, consultant, care coordinator, and direct caregiver
and oversees long-term care of chronically ill patients. As such, the
nephrology nurse can have a positive impact on the quality of patients’
lives. Other opportunities in nephrology nursing include:
Nephrology nurses may practice in a variety of medical settings including hospitals, dialysis clinics, transplant programs and private physician practices. They may work in both in-patient or out-patient settings. In some cases they may work in home health care settings. Nephrology patients may be critically ill requiring nephrology nurses to work in intensive care units (ICU).
Nephrology nursing requires additional training beyond that which is required to become a registered nurse. Nephrology nurses must have additional training in
anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, pharmacotherapy, nutrition, growth and development, and end of life care. Nephrology nurses also require additional experience in kidney disease care. Advance practice nephrology nurses, such as a nephrology nurse practitioner, require a master's degree in nursing.
- Case management
- Advanced practice nursing
- Pediatric nephrology
To provide optimum care tailored to each
patient’s needs, specialized areas of nephrology nursing have evolved,
along with nurses’ knowledge and skills. These skills primarily relate
to modalities of therapy which include:
- Peritoneal dialysis
- Continuous renal replacement therapy
- Conservative management
- Other extracorporeal therapies
Nephrology nursing practice overlaps the
boundaries of other specialty areas. For example, transplant nurses now
care for patients who receive multi-organ transplants.
In addition to basic educational preparation to
function as a registered professional nurse, nephrology nursing practice
at the generalist level requires a specific knowledge base and
demonstrated clinical expertise in kidney disease care beyond that
acquired in a basic nursing program. At the advanced practice level, the
nephrology nurse has a master’s degree in nursing as either a nurse
practitioner or clinical nurse specialist. All nephrology nurses must
have a common knowledge base relevant to all aspects of care for adult
and pediatric kidney patients and their families. This knowledge base
includes but is not limited to:
- Anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology
- The nursing process as applied to nephrology nursing
- Knowledge of the diagnosis and treatment for patients requiring
any method of renal replacement therapy
- Pharmacology and pharmacotherapy
- Growth and development
- Teaching/learning theory
- Counseling/interviewing skills
- Interdisciplinary team skills
- Research processes
- Rehabilitation principles
- Palliative care and concepts related to death and dying
The nephrology nurse functions as a
coordinator of patient care collaborating with other care providers and
health team members to provide required care as effectively as possible.
The nephrology nurse acts as a patient teacher and advocate, assisting
the patient in seeking information, assuring the patient has the
opportunity for informed consent for treatment decisions, and promoting
the maximal level of patient-desired independence. The nephrology nurse
may also function as a nurse manager to assure the delivery of
appropriate care. The nephrology nurse actively participates in
professional role development activities including continuing education,
quality assessment and improvement, and the review and clinical
application of research findings. The nephrology nurse develops
ethically sound practice and confronts ethical challenges through
application of the Standards of Nephrology Nursing Practice.
American Nephrology Nurses’
East Holly Avenue/Box 56
Pitman, New Jersey 08071-0056
Toll free: 888-600-2662
Web site: www.annanurse.org