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American Kidney Fund

American Kidney Fund

What Is a Dialysis Nurse?

What Is a Dialysis Nurse?

As a key part of a dialysis treatment team, it’s important to know what a dialysis nurse does—including monitoring your health, ensuring your safety, and verifying your treatments are effective.

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If you’re on dialysis, you already see a dialysis nurse often, but if you’ve yet to start, you may be curious about what functions a dialysis nurse serves. In most healthcare settings, a nurse’s duties include communicating between patients and doctors, caring for patients, administering medicine, and supervising aides or techs. 

While those duties are included, dialysis nurses also have a special understanding of kidney disease and are trained to provide effective and safe dialysis treatment—which makes them a key part of your treatment team.* 

What are the duties of a dialysis nurse? 

Nurses are vital to your health and have many important roles involving monitoring your health and ensuring your safety. 

These are the specific duties you can expect from your dialysis nurse:

  • Review your medicines monthly to make sure you are taking the correct pills and dosage
  • Document how you are doing monthly and summarize this with your treatment team
  • Complete an in-depth nursing assessment with you yearly
  • Help to manage any other conditions related to kidney disease, like anemia

With in-center dialysis, you may also expect:

  • An assessment of your health before and after treatment to ensure your safety to receive treatment and to leave from treatment
  • Supervision of your dialysis technician at each shift to make sure treatment areas are sterilized in between treatments, vitals are checked every 30 minutes during treatment, and the dialysis machine is being monitored and running correctly 

With home dialysis, you can also expect:

  • Training for you and/or your caregiver to do treatments yourself
  • On-call availability in case you have issues with your machine or treatment
  • Home visits to make sure it is safe to do treatments there and that you have enough storage space for supplies

Why dialysis nurses are key to your care team

With dialysis, your nurse sees you often and may build a closer relationship with you than other types of nurses. This a great benefit to you, because it means you have a medical expert to speak to regularly. 

If you are having side effects on a new medicine, your nurse can help find answers on it and address it with your doctor if needed. If your nurse is concerned about some of your dietary habits after a conversation with you, he or she can give educated advice or send a referral to a renal dietitian who provide you with more in-depth knowledge. 

Ultimately, building a strong and trusting relationship with your dialysis nurse can help you to feel confident about your care and improve your quality of life.  

*Blattman, E. (2020, May 11). Meet your treatment team: Dialysis nurse. American Kidney Fund.

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