Dialysis nursing: the daily duties and how to become one

Looking for the next step in your career? Have you considered dialysis nursing? Read on to find out more about what the role involves, the skills required to become a dialysis nurse and the opportunities and benefits of working as a dialysis nurse with us at The Guild.

What is dialysis nursing?

Dialysis nursing is an important role that involves caring for and managing patients with kidney failure. As a dialysis nurse, your job involves making sure that dialysis machines are set up correctly for patients, assessing the health of patients throughout their treatment, and educating patients and carers on their conditions.

What does a dialysis nurse do? 

There are two main types of dialysis – haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis – and dialysis nurses play a slightly different role in the two procedures.

In haemodialysis, the patient is connected to a machine through two tubes and the patient’s blood is filtered through the machine. The clean blood is then returned to the patient’s body. A dialysis nurse oversees this procedure in a hospital or unit. This usually takes place three times a week.

Peritoneal dialysis is a daily procedure, where a catheter is permanently attached to the abdomen of a patient, and a dialysis fluid is pumped through the catheter tube to filter the patient’s blood. With this form of dialysis, the role of a dialysis nurse is to train the patient so they can complete it in their own home.

On a day-to-day basis, dialysis nursing involves the below:

  • Assessing the needs of patients and creating care plans for them
  • Making sure patients receive the correct medication on time, by preparing the dialysis machines and medication
  • Monitoring patients and assessing their health throughout treatment, recording treatment received and checking whether care plans need altering
  • Educating patients so that they can gain a better knowledge of their health and take responsibility for their wellbeing
  • Providing emotional support to patients

Where do dialysis nurses work? 

There are different settings in which a dialysis nurse can work. These include:

  • Dialysis clinics – you’ll meet regularly with patients and have the opportunity to build strong nurse-patient relationships
  • Acute care or ICU – you’ll administer emergency dialysis or other kidney treatments for people who are suffering from extreme kidney failure
  • Nursing homes and hospices – these settings can require a dialysis nurse to provide care for their residents
  • People’s homes – you’ll carry out treatments, record patients’ vitals and report back to the hospital or healthcare facility

If you choose to become an agency dialysis nurse, you can work in various settings, as you take on short-term placements that provide you with variety, flexibility and freedom. This type of work can see you travelling across the country, giving you the opportunity to meet many different patients and work with lots of different people.

Why become a dialysis nurse? 

There are lots of reasons to become a dialysis nurse:

  • It’s a fulfilling role as you are helping to significantly improve and extend someone’s life
  • Patients will often have different co-morbidities, giving you the opportunity to gain new knowledge and experience all the time
  • Dialysis nursing is a specialist role that will allow you to develop valuable skills that can be transferable to other roles
  • Skills learnt can be beneficial for professional development

What are the benefits of working as an agency dialysis nurse? 

  • You are likely to work in different settings, allowing you to gain more experience with different types of dialysis machines
  • You will have the opportunity to travel and have more variation in your job
  • You’ll have the flexibility to pick up shifts when it suits you, so shifts can fit around other commitments
  • Agency shifts can be in addition to a permanent role, to provide you with an extra source of income

What skills and qualities does a dialysis nurse need? 

When working as a dialysis nurse, it is important to possess the following skills and qualities:

  • Patience and strong communication skills to help educate patients and their family members or carers
  • Attention to detail as your patients will need personalised care as well as close monitoring – any problems or changes to a patient’s condition will need to be picked up on quickly and acted upon
  • The ability to work well in a team, especially as an agency dialysis nurse – you will need to be able to easily integrate into the different teams you work within
  • Confidence in working independently, when required

How do I become a dialysis nurse? 

Apart from your nursing qualification, you do not need a particular qualification to become a dialysis nurse, but there are lots of additional courses that universities across the UK offer, to provide you with training.

To work for The Guild as a dialysis nurse, you would need to fulfil the below requirements:

  • Have a valid NMC pin
  • Be proficient in all aspects of machine set-up, programmes and prescriptions
  • Have a minimum of 12 months of experience, within the last 18 months
  • Be committed to the delivery of high-quality care

There are a number of steps in the registration process for the Guild, but this is to ensure that you have all the skills required for you to work in the shifts that you pick and to smoothly integrate into an unfamiliar team.

If you fit the above requirements, please read more about the process of joining the Guild here.

Dialysis nursing opportunities with the Guild 

We are looking for renal dialysis nurses to work generally in temporary, last-minute placements. This could be in both NHS and private hospitals across Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, with an expectation that you would be able to travel and attend shifts with short notice.

We need nurses who are experienced, flexible, and willing to literally go the extra mile for our clients. In return, we provide premium rates and reimburse travel expenses. We also offer full professional support, which includes 24/7 nurse-led telephone support.

If you’re looking for the next exciting step in your nursing career, register with the Guild today.

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