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.
Nephrology nurses routinely care for patients in the following settings:
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.
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.
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.
Common basic credentials and/or certifications of a nephrology nurses:
Two designated certifications which are both recognized by the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission:
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.
According to PayScale.com, 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.