The Pros and Cons of a Dialysis Nurse Manager Career
Dialysis nurse managers are registered nurses (RNs) who work in dialysis centers and hospitals. To learn more about the pros and cons of a career as a dialysis nurse manager, just keep reading.
|Pros of Being a Dialysis Nurse Manager|
|Make a living helping others*|
|Good salary relative to education requirements*|
|Healthy job market (19% projected job growth from 2012-2022)*|
|Job location flexibility*|
|Ability to provide emotional support to patients*|
|Cons of a Being a Dialysis Nurse Manager|
|Long hours can include evenings, weekends and holidays*|
|Potential exposure to infectious disease**|
|Working with potentially harmful chemicals**|
|Potential for high levels of stress*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Dialysis Clinic, Inc.
Dialysis involves removing metabolic waste products from the blood through the use of an artificial kidney. For many patients with severe renal (kidney-related) problems, dialysis is a life-sustaining procedure. Dialysis nurses will encounter a wide range of renal issues and disorders, from acute and chronic renal failure to kidney transplant.
Dialysis nurse managers are responsible for all clinical aspects of a dialysis center's operation, including overseeing patient care and supervising clinical staff. They also frequently ensure patient education and overall satisfaction. Making sure that clinical procedures are consistent with federal regulations is another responsibility of dialysis nurse managers, so it is important for them to review and update policy manuals often.
Salary and Employment Outlook
As of May 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported an average annual salary of $69,790 for RNs. The 19% job growth expected by the BLS for this field between 2012 and 2022 is much faster than average. Outpatient facilities affiliated with hospitals are expected to experience strong growth in employment of nurses.
Dialysis nurse managers must be licensed RNs in their state of employment, and they must have dialysis experience. Many employers also require a valid CPR certification and sometimes prefer experience in critical care nursing. As for education, an associate degree in nursing is typically the minimum required to be an RN. Some employers may require a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), and a master's degree may be desired if you want to move into a leadership role. Whatever degree level is necessary, you should expect coursework focused on anatomy, microbiology, physiology and psychology.
Prospective dialysis nurse managers should possess good team-building, decision-making, customer service, leadership, management and communication skills. Since you'll need to train new personnel and keep up ongoing training with current staff, you will need a good deal of patience in a dialysis nurse manager career. In general, nurses should also be sympathetic, responsible and detail oriented.
If you meet the standard prerequisites for a dialysis nurse manager position, chances are you'll be able to find work in a hospital, outpatient facility or home health care setting. While responsibilities are usually similar for dialysis nurse manager jobs, some 2012 job postings reflect specific expectations.
• A hospital system in Washington State seeks a clinical manager for its outpatient dialysis unit. The posting specifies three years of experience in dialysis and two years in a nursing leadership position as requirements.
• A dialysis clinic based in Texas is looking for a charge nurse to oversee hiring and training of employees, direct and assign work, appraise performance and address complaints. At least one year of experience as a registered nurse working in dialysis is required.
• A renal health care center in Michigan seeks a dialysis nurse manager who has two years of experience treating end stage renal disease patients. Developing budgets and growth strategies for this small clinic are additional responsibilities of this position.
Standing Out in the Field
While state licenses allow RNs to legally practice professional nursing, some organizations offer specialized certifications that reflect specific skills and knowledge. The American Board of Nursing Specialties (ABNS) is comprised of nursing certification organizations that offer wide-ranging credentials. The Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission (NNCC) awards specialized certifications for dialysis nurses and hemodialysis technicians. Other possible credentials include the Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML) certification from the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE), which demonstrates a combination of education and experience.
Aside from keeping up to date with the latest techniques and equipment in the field, active and prospective dialysis nurse managers can also consider specializing in a certain area of health care. Some dialysis nurse managers may work mostly with acute patients with advanced kidney disease or other health problems. Pediatric renal treatment is another area of focus that can be challenging but also very rewarding.
Alternative Career Options
If you wish to work in the nephrology field without branching into managerial or administrative tasks, you can choose to stay with hands-on nursing roles in dialysis and renal specializations. You could, for instance, earn the dialysis nurse or hemodialysis nurse credential mentioned above. You could become a Certified Nephrology Nurse (CNN) by earning a at least a BSN, then gaining relevant experience and seeking out specialized, accredited continuing education opportunities. You could also work to become a Certified Nephrology Nurse - Nurse Practitioner (CNN-NP), which will require a minimum of a master's degree in nursing plus experience and continuing education.
Various positions in nephrology education, research and case management may also be of interest to you. Some of these jobs may also require further education than normally needed for dialysis nurse manager positions, but if you can handle the extra time and cost of earning an advanced degree, you may be able to play an even bigger role in the quality and outcome of patient care.
On the other hand, if nursing or nurse management is the right direction for you, but the dialysis/renal specialization is not, you could choose to be a nurse or follow a parallel path from RN to nurse specialist or nurse manager in any one of the other medical specializations.