How Do You Specialize a Nursing Degree in Nephrology?

If you’re looking to become a nurse in an important but overlooked branch of medicine, perhaps it’s time to think about how you can specialize a nursing degree in nephrology. Nephrology is the branch of medicine that focuses on the kidneys, how they function to filter toxins out of the body, and health complications that can affect and damage these vital organs. When you completed specialized nephrology coursework and become a nephrology nurse, you’ll work directly with patients who have medical conditions that are affecting the functions of their kidneys.

What Does a Nephrology Nurse Do?

While generalist nurses help patients with a variety of illnesses and medical conditions, nephrology nurses are specialists who play a vital role in educating families, assessing patients, diagnosing kidney-related complications, and treating patients with these conditions.

Nephrology nurses are also involved in the diagnostic state, where they may look into a patient’s medical history and take images. Once a diagnosis has been made, nephrology nurses assist the patient and his or her loved ones to better understand the diagnosis, the condition, and what steps the patient will take during treatment. Since dialysis is a crucial to treating kidney-related health conditions, nephrology nurses will need a strong foundational knowledge of dialysis as well as how to operate dialysis machines.

How Can You Specialize a Nursing Degree in Nephrology?

The first step to becoming a nurse who specializes in nephrology is to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from an accredited university or college. Aspiring nephrology nurses must make sure that the program they take allows them to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam to obtain licensure. Once a nurse is officially a licensed registered nurse (RN), he or she will then need to work for at least two years in a clinical setting where he or she can acquire at least 3,000 hours of experience working with nephrology patients, according to the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission. This experience is a requirement in order for an RN to sit for his or her certification exam on the way to becoming a Certified Nephrology Nurse.

Do You Need an Advanced Degree?

Although aspiring nephrology nurses do not necessarily need a graduate degree for certification, a Master of Science program offers several benefits. For instance, students who pursue a master’s degree as nursing majors will be able to take electives and further develop their knowledge base. Some of the classes students should select as they study to become a clinical nurse specialist include kidney disease care, renal replacement therapy, and hemodialysis. According to the American Nephrology Nurses’ Association, it is best to choose a clinical specialist degree program that offers a nephrology specialization to ensure students are able to cover important content within the field.

Related Resource: What is a Licensed Practical Nurse?

Nephrology is an area of medicine that has gained more traction in recent years, thus resulting in an increased need for specialized nephrology nurses. If you become a nephrology nurse, you may choose from sub-specialty areas such as renal replacement areas, hemodialysis, extracorporeal therapies, conservative management, and transplantation. However, it is important to thoroughly research the job duties and outlook for specific careers and specialties in which you are interested so that you may decide whether you want to specialize a nursing degree in nephrology or not.