Quote from nicholaa2
I'm considering a change from psych nursing to dialysis nursing, but I wanted to see what clinical skills are expected to be a quality dialysis nurse providing OP renal care.
The job description seems VERY vague: "The registered nurse is responsible for performing patient assessments, establishing care plans, advising patients and their families, implementing and evaluating nursing treatment, and administering medications."
What's a typical shift like? Do you start IVs or do most patients have their access already? Is it more being able to monitor vital signs and understand fluctuations from baseline?
I'd love to hear what a typical 8-hour OP Dialysis RN shift might be like (granted, I understand no two shifts are the same!)
Thanks in advance
Well, most dialysis positions are 11-14 hour days. I very rarely see 8 hour days. But anyways, a typical day if you are the opening nurse would be to arrive between 4:30 and 5:30 am depending on your clinic. You would get there and verify the water system with the tech before any patients come inside.as charge nurse, I would unlock the doors, print out necessary paperwork, count meds, draw up 15 vials of heparin for each morning patient, and once everything seems ready and safe, give the go ahead for the first few patients to come in. This would all happen in the first 30 minutes. In a matter of 10 minutes, you need to do 3-4 patients assessments for pre dialysis, document, and then push heparins after the tech has stuck the patient. After the first 4 patients are on, it's time to verify that the tech did everything correctly and treatments are safe. Don't sit down yet, the techs are now bring in 4 more patients to put on the machines and its only 15 minutes since the first 4 came in. You repeat again. You do 4 rounds of this in 1 hour until all 16 patients are running on the machines. Now it's time to verify safety on everyone. Keep in mind vitals signs must be recorded on all 16 patients every 30 minutes. If you're lucky, the techs are responsible and will do this. Now you need to push medications. Usually there are 3, epogen, iron supplement, and a vitamin d supplement. Make sure you give all 16 patients their IV meds safely. The phone will be ringing off the hook for you. The MD may round between 8-9am. You must follow all his orders and are responsible for adding them into the computer. Coordinate with secretary to make cardiac appts, schedule surgeries, etc. you hopefully can take a breakfast break after everyone else has gone. Keep in mind, you've got 16 patients to watch, who are bottoming out on BP, asking to take a bathroom break, complaining about how cold they are, asking for water, etc on a constant basis. Just as you come back from break, it's time to get ready for the first "turnover". All 16 patients will start coming off the machines in 15 minute intervals, and 16 new patients will be in the lobby cranky and wanting to get on the machine at their exact scheduled appointment time. So you've got techs returning blood, while you're running around verifying that the post assessments are good and patients are stable to go home. You should already have your heparins drawn up for 2nd shift. A tech might have a time frame of 30-45 minutes to flip a chair, meaning get patient out after they're done bleeding, clean machine, re- setup new machines, and get next patient in. Get next patient on the machine fast because their other patient is about to come off the machine in the next chair over. The tech will have 30-45 minutes to flip that chair, and so forth. You better hope nothing goes wrong! And it does, all the time. You as nurse will be expected to ensure safety of all patients, you may also have to flip a few machines yourself since the techs get caught up with problems and difficult patients. You will work faster then you ever thought possible. The changeover lasts about 3 hours of nonstop chaos. After the chaos subsides, you can get ready to do your second med pass. In the later afternoon, you may be able to do some assessments or education, but usually you end up picking up the slack work since the techs have other duties in the back that need to be taken care of. You will be doing vitals signs, returning blood, making phone calls, etc. you will be wearing a plastic gown all day, no exceptions, and usually a face shield and mask.
To put it plainly, you will never sit down and you will go through about 500 pairs of gloves per day just yourself! Buy good shoes, be prepared for chaos, and if something goes wrong, it's on you. Most people quit during training. If you like it, stick with it, it can be a lot of fun, but it is very hard work.