Job Description for a Dialysis RN

Some dialysis RNs offer at-home dialysis care for home-bound patients.
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Some dialysis RNs offer at-home dialysis care for home-bound patients.

Nursing is a job that requires compassion, patience and a willingness to serve. It is also a job dominated by women. More men join the nursing ranks each year, but as of 2012, less than 10 percent of nurses in the U.S. were men, according to data from Discover Nursing and the Census Bureau. In the subspecialty of dialysis nursing, registered nurses take care of patients needing dialysis treatments for renal failure and other kidney-related conditions. Dialysis RNs work in hospitals, outpatient medical centers, doctor's offices and clinics.


The path to becoming a dialysis RN starts by earning an associates or bachelor's degree in nursing, followed by taking and passing the National Council Licensure Examination. While in nursing school, a student interested in dialysis should take specialized classes related to kidney and renal diseases. For additional knowledge and practice, a dialysis nurse can opt for certification as a Nephrology Nurse through the Nephrology Nurse Certification Commission. Certification requires the applicant to gain 2,000 practical hours in a dialysis unit and pass the certification exam.

Job Duties

The dialysis RN monitors a patient before, during and after the treatment, looking for signs of an allergic reaction or other issues. Coordinating care with other doctors and health professionals, the dialysis RN assures that each patient receives proper care outside of dialysis treatments. Because the dialysis process can be complicated, the dialysis RN makes sure her patient understands his treatment options and knows how to manage his condition at home. If a patient needs a kidney transplant, the dialysis RN provides pre- and post-surgical care, checking the patient for signs of infection or organ rejection. A dialysis RN also administers other medications as needed.


Along with compassion and patience, the dialysis RN must have empathy for patients, many of whom are facing life-threatening diseases and conditions. A dialysis nurse must be a team player as well as be able to work independently, with little or no immediate supervision. Other skills necessary for dialysis workers include being emotionally stable to support patients and possessing excellent analytic skills to make decisions on behalf of each patient.

Salary and Work Environment

According to a survey by the American Nephrology Nurses Association, dialysis RNs earned average incomes of $91,240 a year as of 2012. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the average salary for an RN at closer to $64,000 a year, as of 2010. Like other nurses, dialysis nurses come into frequent contact with potentially-hazardous materials like bodily fluids, blood and needles. The dialysis RN must be able to lift and move patients, spends most of her day on her feet and stoops and kneels frequently. Nurses that want to advance in the field to positions like nurse manager or transplant coordinator should earn a master's degree in nursing and pursue certification as an advanced practical nurse.

2016 Salary Information for Registered Nurses

Registered nurses earned a median annual salary of $68,450 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, registered nurses earned a 25th percentile salary of $56,190, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $83,770, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 2,955,200 people were employed in the U.S. as registered nurses.

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