What Is It Like to Be a Dialysis Nurse?
September 14, 2014
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As a dialysis nurse, you will serve as part of the lifeline for patients who suffer from kidney failure. As you support, monitor, medicate and educate patients, they will receive the dialysis that prolongs their life. This nursing specialty, like every other specialty, will make a difference in the welfare of your patients.
What Exactly Is Dialysis?
Since these patients' kidneys are no longer able to remove waste products from their blood, they depend on dialysis, which performs some of the same functions of healthy kidneys. The two types of dialysis include hemodialysis, the procedure that cleanses the blood, and peritoneal dialysis, the procedure that injects a special fluid into the abdominal cavity to eliminate toxins.
What Will Your Duties Be?
In order to maximize the health of your patients, you will wear several hats in dialysis nursing. One primary duty is monitoring patients' vital signs before, during and after the procedure to make sure they are safe. The disease can affect other organ systems, so you will need to be on alert for complications and evaluate the effectiveness of treatment on an ongoing basis. While nursing kidney transplant patients, you will watch for signs of infection or organ rejection as well as prepare them to care for themselves at home. One of the most important aspects of the job is educating patients about their kidney disease, including measures that will help manage it, such as diet and lifestyle practices. Since kidney disease is complex, you will also coordinate your care with that of doctors, dietitians and other members of the healthcare team.
Where Will You Work?
Dialysis nurses work in an array of settings. You can choose from hospitals, outpatient clinics, hospice services, nursing homes, home healthcare agencies and transplant programs. Your working hours will vary with the setting and range from rotating shifts in hospitals to regular business hours in clinics. If you provide in-home care, you will schedule your services around the needs of the patient.
What Skills and Qualities Should You Have?
A dialysis nurse requires specialized knowledge, skills and personality traits. You will need sophisticated technical skills to operate machinery as well as a comprehensive and practical knowledge of kidney disease. As dialysis patients usually have several other medical conditions, attention to detail and strong analytical skills are required to manage all their conditions.
To connect with patients, you should be empathetic, compassionate and have a positive attitude so you can motivate them. Other qualities include strong communication and leadership skills, which will be an asset when it comes to educating patients. Nurses in this field also need to exercise good self-care and be emotionally stable so they can support suffering patients without becoming overwhelmed.
While your role in this profession will have its challenges, it will certainly have its rewards, too. At the end of your work day, you will have the satisfaction of knowing your efforts are helping people with kidney failure to live with their disease.
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