Nephrology Nurse

Nephrology nurses care for patients who suffer from acute or chronic kidney diseases. Nephrology nurses patients’ illnesses may be caused by hypertension, diabetes, or substance abuse. Nurses who specialize in a certain organ or body system, like nephrology nurses, usually work in hospitals, specialty clinics, outpatient clinics, or critical care units. There are many paths a nurse working in the nephrology nursing specialty can take. Nephrology nurses can work with patients who suffer end stages of renal/kidney disease (ESRD), patients who need dialysis, or patients who have had kidney transplants. Providing pertinent healthcare or patient education can also play a large role in their job duties. Educating patients, their families, and communities about chronic kidney disease and decreasing the risk factors can be an exciting way to contribute to this field. A nephrology research career pathway is also within the realms of nephrology nursing with the right combination of work experience and education.

How to Become a Nephrology Nurse

To become a nephrology nurse, you will need to earn a nursing degree from an accredited nursing program that is approved by your state’s board of nursing and become a registered nurse (RN). Earning a bachelor’s degree will often make you more competitive for the more desirable nursing jobs and potentially earn you a higher salary, but earning an associate degree is a faster educational option to becoming a registered nurse. A nursing diploma from a hospital nursing program is also an alternative however these programs are much more scarce. After graduating from a nursing program, you will also have to pass the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX). Passing this exam and fulfilling any additional state requirements is the final step in becoming a licensed nurse. While taking additional courses on nephrology in nursing school would be beneficial, it is not necessary to break into this field, particularly if you first get some working experience as a nurse.

Nephrology nursing certification is also a professional development option in nephrology nursing. Becoming a certified nephrology nurse (CNN) is voluntary, but it may be in your best interest to consider it a necessary step in your education and career. Nephrology nursing certification is often considered a requirement by healthcare employers. It demonstrates that your knowledge is up to date and meets the nephrology nursing industry standards, regardless of where you live or when and where you earned your degree. Nephrology nursing certification also demonstrates a level of commitment to the field that will comfort your future patients and earn the respect of your colleagues and supervisors. Additionally, check out the American Nephrology Nurses’ Association (ANNA) as a way to stay connected with developments in this field of nursing. Professional organizations offer great opportunities for networking and continuing education opportunities. ANNA also has regional offices throughout the country.

The outlook for this branch of nursing is very good. Nursing in general is well known to be growing at a rapid pace, and nephrology nursing is no different, particularly with the rise in kidney disease, diabetes, and hypertension. According to the National Institute of Health, an estimated 23 million American adults have chronic kidney disease, and in 2007, over 500,000 were treated for end-stage renal disease (ESRD). The average salary for a certified nephrology nurse - CNN is $29.14 - $35.77 an hour, but will go up with additional education, certification and responsibilities. A head nurse in a dialysis unit will make $30-$36 an hour, and a nephrology nurse practitioner with a master’s degree earns an average salary of $71,000. If nursing and helping patients who suffer from kidney disease interests you, get started finding an RN degree program convenient for you to get you jump started on the nephrology nursing career path.

(Sources: American Nephrology Nurses’ Association, Nephrology Nursing certification commission)

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