Nephrology Nurse

What Is a Nephrology Nurse?

Nephrology nurses are nursing professionals who specialize in addressing, protecting, and promoting kidney health. They care for patients who are experiencing renal (kidney) issues and with patients who may be at risk for developing kidney-related problems. The scope of practice for a nephrology nurse generally includes making an initial patient assessment, which encompasses carrying out a complete medical assessment and then discussing any symptoms that a patient may be experiencing. Nephrology nurses help patients to better understand their conditions and how to better manage them. In addition to this, these nurses may also assist nephrologists in diagnostic procedures like internal imaging, as well as in the examination of a patient's medical history. Medical problems that are commonly addressed by nephrology nurses include End State Renal Disease (ESRD), renal cysts, kidney stones, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), and kidney transplants.

What Are Some Nephrology Nurse Duties?

  • Perform dialysis procedures
  • Assess, educate, and treat patients with kidney problems
  • Stabilize patients
  • Assist during surgeries or other procedures
  • Recommend diet options to patients
  • Take medical histories
  • Advise patients on a healthy lifestyle and other ways to attenuate kidney disease
  • Establish and administer effective treatment plans for patients

Where Do Nephrology Nurses Work?

Nephrology nurses routinely care for patients in the following settings:

  • Physicians' offices
  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Dialysis centers
  • Home healthcare agencies

How to Become a Nephrology Nurse

Nephrology nursing takes the right combination of education and specialty experience. A firm grasp of renal diseases and processes are a must. If you think you might be interested in this pathway, earning clinical experience in a nephrology department while in nursing school may be advantageous.

Step 1: Educational Requirements

The initial step you must take when on the road towards becoming a nephrology nurse is to gain licensure as an RN. However, before you do so, you need to successfully complete an ADN or BSN program and then pass the NCLEX-RN examination. After you have passed exam and gained your RN license, you can then begin accumulating the hours of hands-on, clinical experience and continuing education that's needed for certification.

Do Nephrology Nurses Need an RN Degree?

At the very least, nephrology nurses will need to be licensed as a registered nurse, having completed an accredited ADN or BSN degree program. Those practicing at the advanced practice level as nurse practitioners or clinical nurse specialists will need to have earned an MSN or DNP degree.

Step 2: Required Certifications/Credentials

Common basic credentials and/or certifications of a nephrology nurses:

  • ADN/BSN degree
  • Basic Life Support (BLS) Certification
  • CPR Certification
  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support
  • IV Administration Skills

Two designated certifications which are both recognized by the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission:

  • Certified Dialysis Nurse (CDN) Prerequisite Requirements:
    • Hold an active and unencumbered RN license
    • Have accumulated a total of 2,000 or more hours of clinical experience in nephrology nursing within the last two years
    • Have at least 20 hours of nephrology nursing continuing education within the last two years
    • Pass certification exam
  • Certified Nephrology Nurse (CNN) Prerequisite Requirements:
    • Hold an active and unencumbered RN license
    • Have accumulated a total of 3,000 or more hours of clinical experience in nephrology nursing within the past three years before applying for certification
    • Have at least 30 hours of nephrology nursing continuing education within the past three years before applying for certification
    • Meet specific requirements to work with distinct disease processes
    • Pass certification exam

Nephrology Nurse Jobs, Salary & Employment

Kidney issues are some of the most common medical problems experienced by patients around the country. This fact mixed with the extensive amount of education and clinical experience needed to become a nephrology nurse make a becoming a Certified Nephrology Nurse (CNN) or a Certified Dialysis Nurse (CDN) an excellent career option.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - Well-honed general nursing skills, knowledge of appropriate machinery, keen observational skills, compassion, empathy, interpersonal communication skills, leadership abilities, ability to work well in teams
  • Job Outlook - The US BLS has predicted that job growth for RNs is expected to increase by 16% between the years 2014 and 2024. We can expect the employment outlook for nephrology nurses to be around the same in the coming years

What Is the Average Salary of a Nephrology Nurse?

According to, Certified Dialysis Nurses (CDNs) make an average yearly salary of $76,000, whereas Certified Nephrology Nurses (CNNs) make an average annual salary of $84,000. The salaries of nephrology nurses will vary depending on factors like education level, certifications held, city and state of employment, experience level, and the employer. Those with advanced practice nursing degrees are likely to earn more than those with BSNs or ADNs. Nephrology nurses will also enjoy a wide variety of benefits like medical, dental, vision, prescription, and life insurance coverage. Most will also enjoy a decent amount of paid time off every year as well as paid sick days.

How Much Do Nephrology Nurses Make per Year?

  • $76,000 – $93,000 annually

How Much Do Nephrology Nurses Make per Hour?

  • $36.90 average hourly wage

Nephrology Nurse Resources