As the number of patients with chronic kidney disease requiring dialysis treatments or transplantation continues to grow, so does the demand for registered nurses to become a nephrology nurse to fulfill patient needs. With their clinical expertise in providing care to patients with abnormal kidney functions in a technologically advanced nursing specialty, it is estimated that nephrology nurses are needed to treat over 661,330 patients each year with diabetes or kidney disease by the National Kidney Foundation. If you are interested in initiating dialysis treatments, educating patients on at-home care, intervening to prevent complications, and helping patients achieve their rehabilitative potential after a renal transplant, the following is a step-by-step guide on how you can become a nephrology nurse.
Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing
The first step towards reaching your professional aspirations as a nephrology nurse is to receive the proper training at the bachelor’s degree level from an accredited nursing program. In general, four-year BSN programs are intended to develop the leadership and critical thinking skills that are needed for more advanced nursing positions. You will take courses related to nursing theory, nursing management, human anatomy, developmental psychology, microbiology, health assessment, pathophysiology, pharmacology, nursing research, and clinical practicum. It is highly recommended that nephrology nurses have a BSN to open more professional doors in certification and have enhanced skills for better job prospects. If you already have earned an ADN degree, there is also the option to complete the RN-BSN program with an accelerated curriculum.
Start Working as a Registered Nurse in Nephrology
In all states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories, it is required that nurses possess a valid nursing license as a Registered Nurse to practice. Although processes will vary greatly from state to state, most will require applicants to meet specific educational requirements from an accredited institution, submit an application, complete a background check, and pass the comprehensive National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Once you have received good test results, you can start working as a registered nurse without supervision. You will need to work for at least three years as an RN and obtain at least 3,000 hours in a nephrology setting before moving on to the next step.
Pursue Certification as a Certified Nephrology Nurse (CNN)
After you have gained the necessary experience in home hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, inpatient critical care, inpatient acute kidney injury, Chronic Kidney Disease management, kidney transplant, and apheresis as a registered nurse, you can apply for certification to become a Certified Nephrology Nurse through the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission. Before being accepted, you will need to complete a minimum of thirty contact hours of approved continuing education credits in nephrology within three years prior to application. Once you have been accepted, you will need to pass a 200-question examination in four years with a correct response rate of over 70% to receive certification.
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Overall, nephrology nurses are in demand for providing direct care to patients with kidney-related health concerns that stem from diabetes, substance abuse, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and other increasingly common medical causes. Using this step-by-step guide to become a nephrology nurse, you will unlock opportunities for providing essential dialysis and renal transplant care in acute care centers, home health services, outpatient clinics, transplant units, hospitals, and more.