As you explore the different specialties of nursing, you might start to wonder what a nephrology nurse does. These registered nurses (R.N.s) work in specialized roles, taking care of patients who have kidney problems that arise from a variety of causes.

The Work of a Nephrology Nurse

What a nephrology nurse does is provide care to patients who suffer from all kinds of health issues and medical conditions related to kidney disease and damage, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. In particular, nephrology nurses provide care to patients who have conditions such as chronic kidney disease (CKD), acute kidney injury (AKI) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD), according to the American Nephrology Nurses Association (ANNA). They often work in dialysis clinics, hospitals and transplant centers, the ANNA reported.

The kidneys play an essential role in the body, cleaning waste from the blood. Any damage to or disease of the kidneys can reduce how effectively the kidneys work and allow waste to remain in the body. Patients whose kidneys begin to fail may undergo kidney replacement therapy (KRT), such as a kidney transplant or dialysis, the use of a machine to clean and purify the blood. Nephrology nurses provide care to patients who have undergone kidney transplants and help to administer dialysis treatments.

Many situations can lead to kidney disease, including high blood pressure, diabetes and substance abuse problems, according to the BLS. How the kidney damage occurred doesn’t change what a nephrology nurse does for patients. Nephrology nurses provide specialized care to kidney-damaged patients regardless of the cause of the damage. In fact, having to care for patients who have multiple physical and psychosocial medical conditions just makes the job more complex. Because patients of all ages and racial and ethnic groups may develop kidney disease, nephrology nurses care for a variety of different patients, including neonatal, pediatric, adult, and older adult populations, the ANNA reported.

Preparing for a Career as a Nephrology Nurse

It takes a good deal of training to become qualified to do what a nephrology nurse does. For one thing, you must complete the education required to attain a license as a registered nurse. You can start with a diploma or associate’s degree program, though having a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) degree is often helpful, if not required. Many registered nurses who start their careers with a lower level of education go on to complete an R.N. to B.S.N. degree program online. Besides completing your education, you will need to get a passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination to become an R.N.

The Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission offers two credentials for R.N.s in the field of nephrology. The Certified Dialysis Nurse (CDN) designation is for nurses who work in dialysis facilities, while the more general Certified Nephrology Nurse (CNN) credential is for registered nurses who work in many different areas of the field.

Work as a nephrology nurse can be highly rewarding. What a nephrology nurse does plays an essential role in the care of patients with life-changing or life-threatening kidney damage.

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