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Spotlight on: Dialysis 

In Stroud Resourcing’s Spotlight series, we look at some of the less well-known or frequently overlooked specialisms and jobs in healthcare. This week, we’re shining the spotlight on Nephrology and considering the advantages and challenges of training as a renal care or dialysis nurse. 

What is a Nephrology Nurse? 

Nephrology nurses (also known as renal care nurses) care for patients with disorders of the kidneys and renal system. The kidney and urinary systems help the body to remove waste, and to keep chemicals such as potassium and sodium, and water, in balance. As such, conditions affecting the kidneys can be profoundly serious, and often require specialist, long-term care. 

One of the most common treatments for disorders of the kidneys is dialysis, and although there are many other roles available for nurses specialised in nephrology, nurses trained in administering dialysis are highly sought after due to the growing demand for dialysis in the UK.  

Types of Dialysis 

There are two main types of Dialysis: 


The most common type of dialysis, Haemodialysis involves the process of filtering a patient's blood through an artificial kidney. The patient is connected to the machine through two tubes – diverting the patient’s blood into the machine to be filtered and returning the clean blood to the patient’s body. The process usually occurs at least a few times a week. 

Peritoneal Dialysis 

This type of dialysis uses the lining of a patient's abdomen to clean their blood. It is done daily and requires the patient to have a catheter permanently attached to their abdomen, allowing a dialysis solution to flow through their body. 

What Does a Dialysis Nurse Do? 

Dialysis nurses handle both assessment and daily care of dialysis patients throughout their treatment. Some of the main duties of a dialysis nurse can include: 

How Long Does Training in Dialysis Take? 

Clinic Managers report that it takes about 12 months to become a dialysis expert. Nurses without relevant dialysis experience will usually start by observing an experienced colleague for a minimum of a month and then nurses are mentored until considered competent. From there, employers will support nurses to obtain renal qualifications which will help them to progress to team leadership and higher positions. 

Why Specialise in Renal Care? 

Renal care nurses regularly report that this is a highly rewarding field of nursing to work in. Dialysis nurses often find that the long-term relationships they develop with patients are one of the best parts of the job. The care and treatment dialysis nurses provide makes a real difference to patients and can considerably improve and extend their lives. 

Your work-life balance may improve too. Most specialist dialysis clinics operate during daytime hours, Monday-Friday, meaning you can expect more regular shift patterns and weekends off, compared to working in a larger hospital. 

Dialysis is a highly sought-after nursing skill, and the number of patients is rising every year, so nurses in this subspecialty can expect long-term job stability. What’s more, many dialysis patients have co-morbidities and complex care needs, so there’s always the opportunity for dialysis nurses to further develop their skills and learn about other specialities. 

If you’re a registered or trainee nurse considering specialising in dialysis, get in touch with one of our expert consultants today to find employers in your area or view our dialysis vacancies here