Who's taking care of me at the hemodialysis center?

Part 1 (of 8): Nurses

When you walk into a dialysis center you may see the staff wearing medical “scrubs” and “lab coats." You may wonder, since they're dressed alike, if everyone has the same job. While the health care professionals who take care of you are all specially trained, they all have different jobs. In this series of eight articles we will see how each member has a specific purpose to make up your health care team. Let's start with nurses.

What do nephrology nurses in a hemodialysis center do?

Nurses are caring individuals. After all, that's what they do: provide care. Registered nurses (RNs) who care for patients who have kidney disease are called nephrology nurses. The word nephrology means, “relating to the kidneys.” Nephrology nurses are specially trained and educated to care for patients with kidney disease.

RNs working in a hemodialysis center plan and manage the care patients receive. The nurses responsibilities include:

  • checking the patients' vital signs and talking with them to assess their condition
  • teaching patients about their disease and its treatment and answering any questions
  • overseeing the dialysis treatment from start to finish
  • making sure patients are given the correct medications ordered by their doctors
  • evaluating patients' reaction to the dialysis treatment and medications
  • reviewing the patients' lab work, home medications and activities and letting the doctors know about changes in their patients' conditions
  • helping patients follow-up with their transplant center
  • supporting the entire care team in delivering quality care in a considerate, respectful manner

What do PD nurses and home hemodialysis nurses do?

Some dialysis patients don't get hemodialysis in a center but perform peritoneal dialysis (PD) at home or hemodialysis at home. These patients also rely on nephrology nurses to plan, coordinate and oversee their care. While many of the responsibilities of the peritoneal dialysis (PD) and home hemodialysis nurse are the same as in-center hemodialysis nurses, there are some differences.

The main duties of the home hemodialysis and PD nurses are to:

  • assess the patients' condition
  • teach patients how to do peritoneal dialysis or hemodialysis in the home setting
  • consider the patients' learning needs and provide education about their treatment
  • make a training plan for each patient
  • give the patients the medications ordered by their doctors
  • evaluate the patients' ability to perform their dialysis treatments and take all doctor-prescribed medications
  • help patients follow-up with their transplant center
  • review the patients' lab work, home medications and activities and let the doctors know about changes in their patients' conditions

PD and home hemodialysis nurses have excellent teaching skills. They teach their patients how to perform their own treatments at home and give them the knowledge to know what to do if any complications occur during their treatment.

Talk to your nurse

Want to find out why you're feeling a certain way? Have questions about your health? Need an explanation about a doctor's order? Ask your nurse. Each time you go into the center for your dialysis treatment, a nurse will talk to you to find out how you're feeling. This is a good time to ask all of your questions so you can get the answers you need.

Are you interested in being a DaVita nurse?

Many dialysis nurses find their jobs very rewarding because they get to provide treatment for the same patients regularly and follow their care over time. Patients also report that they appreciate being treated by RNs who know their condition and with whom they have developed a bond.

Another perk for dialysis nurses may be that many hemodialysis centers are closed on Sunday because of the Monday-Wednesday-Friday and Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday dialysis schedule. Even though some patients dialyze in the wee hours of the morning and others go into the late evening, there isn't an over night shift that has to be covered, which allows for more reasonable work hours.

DaVita would like to talk to you if you:

  • have an RN license from the state where you work
  • have a CPR certification
  • are a Certified Nephrology Nurse (CNN) or Certified Dialysis Nurse (CDN) (desired)
  • have hemodialysis or peritoneal experience (preferred)
  • are willing to be trained and educated in the care of patients with kidney disease (if you have a nursing background, DaVita offers training)
  • have a strong work ethic, enjoy intellectual challenges and work well in a team-focused environment

Find out more about a nursing career with DaVita


View All Articles in In The Center


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