Today’s nursing environment is not simply limited to what happens on the emergency room floor or in a private practice setting. Advancements in medical technology, practice, theory, and process has resulted in any number of specialty areas or niches that allow RN’s to apply their skills and talents in a number of different ways – for example, real-time reporting on patient or process status has given nurses greater autonomy in providing the best bedside care possible.
One of the more interesting, dynamic, and rewarding specialties resides in dialysis nursing (or nephrology), an area that is expected to see increased demand through 2020, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Because dialysis nursing combines great innovations in medical technology with a wealth of options in terms of how, when, and where dialysis RNs work with patients, a career as a dialysis RN paves the way for lifelong learning and education as well as the ability to negotiate a satisfying work-life balance, which is quickly becoming a top priority for job seekers in the 21st Century. As one of the most progressive nursing fields across the medical profession – dialysis nursing has operated under strict federal guidelines since 1972 – dialysis nursing has a proven structure of support and oversight to ensure patient safety and best practice.
Yet even with the increase in demand for dialysis RNs, there’s still much many RNs still don’t fully realize about how and why a career in dialysis may be a valuable and rewarding avenue. Whether it’s the ability to forge lasting patient relationships or the variety of contexts in which to work, let’s look at 4 lesser known facts about dialysis nursing in order to better understand why today’s RN should consider such a career.
1). Dialysis nurses have the option to work in a host of settings outside the usual medical environments.
Yes, dialysis nurses often work in traditional medical setting such as an emergency room, clinic, or private practice; however, opportunities also abound for careers outside of these environments. Clinics specific to CKD (chronic kidney disease), out-patient dialysis, in-patient dialysis, and even home training are all viable options for RNs looking to enter the dialysis career field. In addition, nurses can also find employment outside the medical field entirely via the pharmaceutical industry, medical equipment industry, and even government agencies devoted to health and human services.
2). Nurses who work with dialysis patients have greater opportunities to form closer relationships with their patients.
Because dialysis nurses often work with a smaller patient load than traditional emergency room nurses (and also because dialysis nursing requires more time and one-on-one care devoted to patients), dialysis nurses not only learn more about the patients they serve, but also form lasting bonds with these patients. Think about it: It’s easier to intimately know 4 or 5 patients you work closely with rather than 10 or 15 who breeze through the emergency room, right? For RNs looking for a fulfilling nurse-patient relationship, dialysis nursing may be just what the doctor ordered.
3). The demand for dialysis nurses is on the rise and is only expected increase in the coming years.
We all want to work jobs that are in great demand, right? Well, dialysis nursing certainly fits that bill. According to the CDC, 30 million Americans (15 percent of adults) are estimated to have some form of CKD. In addition, more than 650,000 people were living on chronic dialysis or with a kidney transplant in 2014. While we all wish these numbers weren’t so high, the fact is the number of people struggling with CKD is increasing, and as such the demand for dialysis nurses is following suit. Hospitals, clinics, and home healthcare agencies will need qualified, dedicated professionals to fill these roles in order to keep pace with the increases in CKD. In addition, technology and process improvements have given patients greater power to direct and administer their own treatments, which allows dialysis nurses to function in more of an educational role in teaching patients how to monitor and address their condition in the comfort of their own homes.
4). Dialysis nurses have the ability to work with patients from diverse backgrounds.
Whether it’s because of diet, gender, ethnic background, or a host of other elements, CKD is a condition that impacts a wide spectrum of patients. For example, the CDC reports CKD is more common in women than men (16 percent to 13 percent); more common in non-Hispanic blacks than non-Hispanic whites (18 percent to 13 percent); and about 15 percent of Hispanics battle some form of CKD. This means dialysis nurses work with and serve patients with unique, varied, and diverse backgrounds, which can offer a more dynamic nurse-patient experience and a result in a more fulfilling nursing career.