What Does a Nephrology Nurse Do?
Nephrology nurses are specially trained to provide nursing care for patients with kidney disease or abnormal kidney function. One of the most important duties of most nephrology nurses is to assist patients with getting dialysis treatments, the process by which toxins and excess water that would normally be filtered by healthy kidneys are removed artificially from the bloodstream. Nephrology nurses implement treatment plans for patients with kidney diseases and disorders, helping the patient to live a fuller and healthier life. They also play an important role in educating those who are at risk of developing kidney disease on how to prevent its onset. Because a major risk factor for kidney disease is diabetes, nephrology nurses also tend to meet with diabetics, warning them to stay on top of their disease management, particularly through their diet. Nephrology nurses work in many areas including acute/critical care for those with end-stage renal disease, home training, outpatient dialysis clinics, and even in transplant units where patients receive new kidneys.
How Can I Become a Nephrology Nurse?
The first step toward becoming a nephrology nurse is to complete an approved nursing education program. The most common way of doing this is to earn a degree in nursing. Most nurses have earned either an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited college or university. Less common is earning a nursing diploma, a program typically offered through hospitals. During your nursing education, it is helpful to take elective courses in nephrology nursing, if possible. After completing a nursing program, all future nurses go on to take an exam called the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) so they can become licensed to practice nursing in their state. Many nurses gain experience as a staff nurse working in critical care, intensive care or medical-surgical nursing before moving into nephrology nursing. After accumulating significant clinical experience working with nephrology patients, you can proceed to become certified through the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission.
What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for a Nephrology Nurse?
The career outlook for registered nurses overall is excellent, and those who specialize in a particular area of health care, such as nephrology nursing, are often highly sought-after. The demand for nephrology nurses is only expected to grow in coming years, as the number of instances of patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) is expected to continue to increase. The overall employment of registered nurses is projected to grow by 22 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average annual salary for a nephrology nurse is $73,000, according to SimplyHired.com, a site that calculates average salaries based on what is listed in the job postings it receives. Online compensation site Payscale.com said the average salary of a Certified Nephrology Nurse was $78,434. A number of factors can affect your salary as a nephrology nurse, including how many years of experience you have, what certifications you have, what region of the U.S. you live in, and whether you are working in a metropolitan or rural area.