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Nephrology Nurse

Nephrology Nurse Information

How Do I Become a Nephrology Nurse? Roles of Nephrology Nurse Practice Settings of a Nephrology Nurse Working Environment of a Nephrology Nurse
Training requirements of a Nephrology Nurse Specialties of a Nephrology Nurse Qualifications for a Nephrology Nurse Associations for Nephrology Nurse
Certification & Eligibility requirements of a Nephrology Nurse Continuing Education for Nephrology Nurse Examination Recertification
Costs & Fees

How Do I Become a Nephrology Nurse?

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.

Difficulty: Moderate

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.

Roles of Nephrology Nurse:

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
  • Corporate/sales
  • 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.

Practice Settings of a Nephrology Nurse:

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:

  • Education
  • Management
  • Research
  • Case management
  • Advanced practice nursing
  • Corporate/government
  • Pediatric nephrology

Working Environment of a Nephrology Nurse

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).

Training requirements of a Nephrology Nurse

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.

Specialties of a Nephrology Nurse:

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:
  • Hemodialysis
  • Peritoneal dialysis
  • Transplantation
  • 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.

Qualifications for a Nephrology Nurse:

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
  • Nutrition
  • 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.

Associations for Nephrology Nurse:

American Nephrology Nurses’ Association (ANNA)
East Holly Avenue/Box 56
Pitman, New Jersey 08071-0056
Toll free: 888-600-2662
Phone: 856-256-2320
Fax: 856-589-7463
Web site:

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