A dialysis nurse with a patient.

What to Expect on a First Day as a Dialysis Nurse

As a certified dialysis nurse, you may be a little nervous about what to expect on your first day. No worries, all nurses have been in your position at one point in time! You will be fulfilling many duties and learning plenty of new things, on your first day as a dialysis nurse. One thing that’s important is to remember why you became a nurse in the first place.

The National Kidney Foundation reports that 30 million people in the United States are affected by Chronic Kidney Disease.  One in 3 Americans are at risk of developing it. With so many individuals requiring treatment for CKD, it’s important to have people like you to help them deal with their disease along the way. 

Patients have to stay still during the duration of their dialysis treatment. In some cases, the treatment may take hours. Depending on the position and responsibilities it may involve being available for the entire process from start to finish. Before learning about your daily duties, it is important to understand what type of dialysis you are performing for your patient. 

Types of Dialysis

The following are the different types of dialysis:

Hemodialysis — Patients can receive hemodialysis treatments in a dialysis center or in the comfort of their own homes, usually occurring 3 to 4 times per week. This treatment cleanses the patient’s blood by pumping it through a dialysis machine, cleaning it. It then reinstates it back into their body. This removes excess fluid and waste from their blood.

Peritoneal Dialysis — Unlike hemodialysis where the patient’s blood is removed from their body to be cleaned, patients receiving peritoneal dialysis have their blood cleaned inside their body. This procedure is done through the lining of the patient’s abdomen using a fluid that is changed periodically. This type of dialysis can be done anywhere.

Dialysis Nurse Duties

Dialysis nurse duties vary depending on the job but here are some common duties to review.

  • You will oversee the whole process — From the time the patient enters the building to when they leave, you will be the person who administers the treatment from the beginning to the end.
  • You will keep up with their vital signs — Each patient responds to dialysis treatments differently. So, you are responsible for consistently keeping an eye on their vitals. One reason is to make sure their blood pressure doesn’t drop too low, for example. While evaluating how they respond to the treatment, you may have to assist them with medications.
  • You will have to educate beyond treatment — Beyond helping them in the dialysis center or at their home, you should educate your patient about their disease, along with what they can do to help with a successful recovery. 
  • You will usually have long hours — Most dialysis nurses have to get up for work early and stay late. Although it can vary, some positions could require that you be prepared for unique schedules and shifts.
  • You will communicate with your patients — Beyond the health aspect of dialysis treatment, dialysis nurse jobs inevitably require you to talk with your patients verbally and nonverbally. How you communicate with your patients will reflect the experience they will have during treatment. 
  • You will form a relationship with your patients — Since you will be seeing a patient 3 to 4 times per week, for long hours at a clip at that, you will be forming a nurse-patient relationship of some sorts that will never be broken. This can be one of the most rewarding parts of your job. 

Interested in Being a Dialysis Nurse?

If you are interested in a career as a travel dialysis nurse, contact our travel nursing agency New Directions Staffing Services. We can provide individuals with travel, temporary-to-hire, and full-time opportunities in both clinical and administrative jobs within the healthcare industry. Call (888) 654-1110 or visit our website for more information today.