As is the case with many professions in the medical field, continuing education is an integral part of being a Nephrology Nurse, as ongoing learning is required in order to stay certified. But first, individuals must meet one of three certification levels before they can even begin working as this type of nurse, which is a specialization that treats patients who either have or at risk for kidney disease.
Certified Dialysis Nurses are Registered Nurses who have done at least 2,000 hours of Nephrology Care as well as 60 hours of continuing education in areas such as dialysis training. Nurses who hold bachelor’s or master’s degrees can begin working in this field, once they meet additional requirements, set forth by the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission. And finally, RNs who have at least a nursing masters degree and are able to meet other advanced requirements can become Certified Nephrology Nurse Practitioners.
As part of the additional requirements, these highly trained nurses will take extra classes in Anatomy and Physiology, Pharmacology, Pathophysiology, Pharmacotherapy, Growth and Development, Nutrition, and end of life care. Nurses also need hands-on experience in kidney disease care.
Once certified, nurses will need to take continuing education, which allows them to keep their training and education up to date. Some ways to keep up their certification include attending the American Nephrology Nurses’ Association’s annual symposium, or one of ANNA’s workshops, distance learning courses or audio conferences that cover topics like dialysis training for nurses. Likewise, the Nephrology Nursing Commission helps nurses advance their education.
The CNN-NP designation, which is the highest certification level, requires that nurses pass the CNN-NP exam. The test consists of 200 multiple choice questions that deal with both patient problems such as acute renal failure, as well as activities such as patient assessment and diagnoses. Dialysis training is an example of the type of training that will help them pass the CNN-NP exam.
Once they have passed that exam, they must be recertified every five years, and there are two ways to earn recertification. First, they can complete 150 hours of continuing education. One hundred of those 150 credit hours must focus specifically on Nephrology. The other option is to pass a recertification exam. Either way, 5,000 hours practicing Nephrology Nursing are required as well.
There are specialized areas in this field as well, and those areas continue to evolve as nurses become trained to provide the best tailored care to each and every patient. Specialized skills mostly relate to modalities of therapy. These include Hemodialysis, Transplantation, Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy and other extracorporeal therapies. Acquiring these skills, of course, requires more continuing education.
Individuals working in this field are responsible for helping patients with acute or chronic kidney failure manage their illness while leading productive lives. As medicine and technology continue to evolve, so does Nephrology Care. These nurses understand that their careers will move forward for as long as they are willing to keep educating themselves and continuing education helps them continue to treat patients to the best of their abilities using the most up-to-date methods of treatment.