CK Logo

How to Become a Dialysis Nurse

The demand for dialysis nurses is rising as more patients are diagnosed with kidney disease. Well-informed nurses who can diagnose ailments and carry out treatment procedures are essential in both hospitals and private health care practices. This is a rewarding role in which you will improve patients’ quality of life.

Becoming a dialysis nurse is not difficult. There are plenty of resources available online that will help you land a job in this field. Below, we will fill you in on all the relevant information and resources you will need to succeed.

What Is a Dialysis Nurse?

A dialysis nurse provides care to patients with kidney problems. Dialysis nursing is one part of a wider health care specialty called nephrology nursing. These nurses work with patients who have severe kidney-related problems.

Dialysis treatment is necessary if a patient has chronic and acute kidney failure. It is the process of removing excess waste from the blood. Patients can either undergo dialysis at a hemodialysis center, or at home.

What Does a Dialysis Nurse Do?

A dialysis nurse helps improve the kidney function of their patients. Dialysis is essential to helping these patients filter and excrete waste as their kidneys are failing. The two types of dialysis are peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis.

Below are the significant roles of a dialysis nurse.

Educating Patients

Dialysis nurses educate patients and their families about kidney disease and how it is treated. These nurses are knowledgeable about the different types of kidney ailments and can provide important insight into improving a patient’s livelihood.

Keeping Records

These caregivers are responsible for monitoring a patient's health and keeping records. Dialysis patients can have irregular reactions to the procedure, so their progress must be recorded and continuously updated.

Patient Care

Dialysis nurses are responsible for overseeing the entire process and providing post-procedure nursing care. They are also responsible for scheduling dialysis appointments, evaluating a patient's ability to undergo dialysis, and conducting follow-ups.

Perform Dialysis

Dialysis is used to filter waste and toxins from the blood. Nurses can perform hemodialysis on patients at a health care facility or at home. For some patients, dialysis treatment can take years of regularly scheduled appointments.

Manage Dialysis Machines

Dialysis nurses are responsible for checking dialysis machines. These systems can also be operated by dialysis technicians, but nurses are responsible for maintaining the equipment. 

Essential Dialysis Nurse Skills

To be a successful dialysis nurse, you will need more than just education and experience. Developing additional skills will demonstrate your qualifications and could even land you a promotion. Below is a list of the skills you must have.

Interpersonal Skills

Working in nursing, you will continuously communicate with doctors, patients, teammates, and supervisors. Having interpersonal skills will make these interactions much easier.

Communication Skills

To work as a nurse, you must have exceptional communication skills. You will find yourself explaining new terms and procedures to patients, which requires that you be able to clearly articulate your meaning. You must have strong written and verbal communication since you will be writing patient reports that doctors will need to read.

Organization skills

Dialysis nurses often deal with many patients at once. This means there are plenty of reports that need to be filled out and evaluated on time. Being able to multitask is essential in the health care industry.

Attention to Detail

Kidney dialysis patients are at major health risk. As a nurse, you must be meticulous as you conduct your rotations. You must carefully monitor your patients to detect any signs of complication. Missing even a tiny change in a patient’s symptoms could cost them their life.

Leadership Skills

As a dialysis nurse, you will be expected to make important decisions on behalf of patients. Being a leader will enable you to make tough choices that patients or their families may find challenging.


Kidney dialysis can be hard on a patient and their family. It is a draining process that takes up time, energy, and finances. As a nurse, you will need to be empathetic toward your patients due to their difficult circumstances.

Dialysis Nurse Salary and Job Outlook

Many people rely on dialysis to help their kidneys perform. Dialysis nurses are qualified registered nurses or advanced practice registered nurses.

These nurses commonly work in hospitals, transplant programs, hospice centers, nursing homes, or at home health care agencies. A dialysis nurse's work is versatile, and you may work at many stations within a facility.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, kidney disease causes more fatalities than breast cancer and prostate cancer. In the US, over 35 million people, or two out of 10 adults, suffer from a kidney condition.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the disease is more common among women and the elderly. Risk factors include heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity. As these statistics reflect, dialysis nurses are in high demand.

The average salary of a dialysis nurse is $33.40 per hour. However, this figure can change depending on the location, years of experience, skills, and education. Employment opportunities are on the rise, and it is expected that salaries will increase along with these job openings.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Dialysis Nurse?

It is standard for dialysis nurses to have in-depth knowledge of the processes they are conducting on their patients. They should be experts on how dialysis equipment functions and have the know-how to maintain it. This is an important part of the learning process that should not be taken lightly.

It requires years of experience and education to fully learn the responsibilities of a nurse. First, you must graduate from an accredited nursing institution. It takes about four years to obtain a degree in nursing. You should also plan on spending two more years to get your master’s degree in nursing.

Before you become a dialysis nurse, you must first become a registered nurse. This official certification requires that you complete the NCLEX-RN test. There are different certifications available depending on your experience.

The amount of time you may take to become a dialysis nurse may vary, but it's a worthy career path that offers great pay.

How to Become a Dialysis Nurse: A Step-by-Step Guide

Becoming a dialysis nurse can seem daunting if you lack proper guidance. Below are the basic steps you should follow on your path to landing your dream job. These steps will ensure that you have the relevant education, skills, and training to become a nurse.

Step 1: Attend nursing school

You must have a bachelor's degree in nursing or an associate degree from a credible nursing program to become a nurse. This is an essential step.

Step 2: Get licensed

After completing your bachelor's degree, you should get certified. You will not be eligible for a license if you have not completed your undergraduate degree. Passing the NCLEX exam will certify you as a registered nurse.

Step 3: Gain experience

You will need a minimum of two years of surgical experience to become a dialysis nurse. New graduates will not be hired directly as a dialysis nurse. The Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission (NNCC) requires you to complete at least 2,000 hours of experience before applying for certification in the field.

Step 4: Complete continuing education units

It is recommended that you complete a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education units before applying for your NNCC certification.

Step 5: Get certified

There NNCC offers two different accreditations for dialysis or nephrology nurses. These are essential for becoming either a Certified Dialysis Nurse (CDN) or a Certified Nephrology Nurse (CNN).

Required Education to Become a Dialysis Nurse

Dialysis nurses are responsible for checking a patient’s health before, during, and after dialysis. This means that they should be very knowledgeable in all aspects of dialysis. They may need to teach patients about how to deal with peritoneal dialysis at home, and discuss nutritional recommendations.

Due to the demanding nature of the job, dialysis nurses must be very well educated. You must obtain your nursing degree, licensing, and certifications if you are serious about gaining employment in this profession. The experience levels required by employers will vary.

Some hospitals will require that you have a Basic Life Support Certification and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support certification. You may also need to undergo specialized training in apheresis or dialysis.

Best Programs and Courses to Become Dialysis Nurse

There are many reliable and effective programs available to help you acquire your dream nursing job. Check out a few of them below.

BSc Nursing Practice

  • Provider: Manchester University
  • Cost: N/A
  • Time: 156 hours
  • Prerequisites: N/A

This is an excellent course to develop a deeper understanding of acute and chronic renal diseases. You will analyze patients' needs, learn about nursing policies, and attain practical skills.

Dialysis Patient Care Technician Certificate

  • Provider:
  • Cost: N/A
  • Time: 87 hours
  • Prerequisites: N/A

This is an excellent program that helps students learn about patient rights and potential medical problems relating to dialysis.

Dialysis Nurse Certificates

Below is a list of certificates you should consider acquiring to improve your nursing job prospects.

Certified Nephrology Nurse exam

This certification is open to nurses who already have at least two years of work experience in a nephrology care setup. You must also have a bachelor's degree in nursing.

Certified Dialysis Nurse exam

This accreditation is intended for licensed nurses who have a minimum of 2,000 hours of work experience.

Certified Nephrology Nurse-Nurse Practitioner exam

This certificate is offered to specialized nurse practitioners. You must have a minimum of 2,000 hours of work experience, a master's degree, and a degree in nursing.

Should You Become a Dialysis Nurse in 2020?

Becoming a dialysis nurse is an excellent career decision if you’re already interested in nursing. Career prospects are increasing, with nurses in high demand. It is also one of the highest paying jobs in nursing, with an average entry-level salary of $61,700.

Kidney problems related to lifestyle decisions or as a result of hereditary illnesses are on the rise worldwide. If you enjoy helping people, this career is an excellent way to ensure that others can live a better quality of life.

According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, jobs for registered nurses are expected to grow by 25 percent in the coming years. This is mostly due to the US’s aging population, which will increase the demand for health services.


Is dialysis nursing stressful?
Because of the demanding nature of the practice, you may find this to be an overwhelming career. However, with practice, you can learn to manage the stressful environment and find a healthy work-life balance.
Do dialysis nurses make more money than other nurses?
A nurse’s pay is determined by their certification, employer, and experience. If you have a strong background education and many years of experience, you will receive a higher income than other nurses.
What makes a good dialysis nurse?
A good dialysis nurse should be rounded. They must be educated, skilled, and experienced, and should prioritize health and safety.
Get matched to top bootcamps