Dialysis Nurse Job Responsibilities


First things first.  There is a difference between a dialysis nurse and a dialysis technician.  A dialysis technician job duties can be found here, and a typical dialysis technician’s salary can be found here.  But, if you’re here because you’re interested in becoming a dialysis nurse as a Registered Nurse, then this is the page you’re looking for.

Nursing in any capacity can be a very rewarding field, both in terms of salary and overall pay and in terms of the ability to help others as a way of life.  Not many workers can say that.  One of those fields is in the kidney dialysis field.  Dialysis is the process of removing unwanted fluids and other various waste from the body when the kidneys are unable to do it by themselves.

This dialysis process can be performed at home, at a dialysis clinic, or in a hospital and the dialysis nurse’s primary job function is to put the dialysis machine and the patient together.  Since the actual dialysis process may take a few hours while the patient waits, other job duties should be expected from the dialysis nurse.  These would include patient interaction to calm the patient, to assure them of the process and to instruct them in other areas of their life – nutritional support, for example.

In most cases the Nephrology Nurse (as it’s also sometimes referred to) has multiple responsibilities beyond what’s mentioned above.  In addition to simply hooking up the machine to the patient and subsequently instructing the dialysis patient on recommended food choices, the dialysis nurse will also:


  1. Be a link between the patient and the physician.  This sometimes involves reinforcing orders delivered from the physician to the dialysis patient
  2. Teach the patient and the patient’s family about issues regarding kidney failure.  Often the dialysis nurse can be helpful in recommending a supportive network to the family.
  3. Teach and instruct the dialysis patient and family members about at-home dialysis care.  Of course, this can be a conflict of interest in terms of losing a patient, but most RN’s understand this and generally encourage patients to learn what’s available to them.
  4. Writing down information allowing the kidney physician (or nephrologist) about the patient’s overall condition.  Physicians lean heavily on their RN’s.
  5. Monitoring and recording vital statistics for each patient, on each visit.


You’ll need a special dialysis certification to become a dialysis nurse.  In addition to the basic RN tag, you’ll need 2,000 hours of renal patient activity within a 2-year period.  You’ll also need a base minimum of 15 continuing education hours.  Finally, you’ll need to fill out an application for a credential called the CDN, or Certified Dialysis Nurse.



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