Transitioning from Dialysis to Med Surg

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    I graduated May 2010 from an awesome school, got a job as a dialysis tech while I took my exams. Became charge nurse after a year. I did get training as tech, mostly read on my own. I learned to string lines (at some point, I was dreaming about it ), cannulated a couple of times and got thrown on the floor with three pts. It was a struggle, but I got better.

    As a nurse, I learned everything myself - no formal training in that aspect until I went to prep class and everything sorta "came together." Dialysis is more than drawing meds and listening to lung sounds and checking edema. There is the psych component, anemia management, access management, patient management, being the mid-man between doctor and pt. I also act as the machine troubleshooter, the computer fix-it lady. I absolutely love what I do. What I cannot stand is the constant bickering and the sub-par management styles of the management team. The back-biting amongst staff. Word on the street amongst techs is that I act like I am superior to them and I talk down because of my degree/education. I am the most compassionate person I know. I love my patients and I love working with people. If I see a tech who keeps having air in her lines all the time or constantly leaves the line out from the air detector, I will correct her, not in a demeaning manner. FA called a meeting that opened a can of worms and did not really solve anything. Needless to say, management at my clinic sucks. Which is why I am looking to open up my options and get experience in Med-Surg. Has anyone ever done this?
  2. 11 Comments so far...

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    I am also a Dialysis Nurse and I can totally relate to where you are coming from. I am also looking at switching to the med/surg route because I would like to work in Peds eventually. Feel free to inbox me and we can vent away. I have also been told that all clinics are the same (and this is from my friend who has been in dialysis for many, many years.)
    tunsie06 likes this.
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    Wow, I liked nursing until I went into dialysis, I love the skills itself but I am not comfortable with a lot of things in the acute setting. I am sad, confused, and ready to burst out in a fit of tears. I think I hate nursing after all that studying
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    I work in chronic dialysis but have heard that acute can be very, very different. I like it but still aspire to change careers. That is what is so nice about Nursing- it is such of a vast field. I hope that you can find something that you like. It took me over a year to feel comfortable in my job and it gets better every day. It is the repetition of doing it until the light bulb comes on. It takes me longer to feel comfortable in my job and a lot of times my nerves get in the way. Hang in there!
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    I worked in dialysis and really enjoyed it, but feared I was losing all my other nursing skills. What prompted me to finally leave was the length of the shifts getting worse (15-16 hours with no help) and the inadequate staffing. We were losing staff and gaining patients and management refused to add more staff or replace those that left. After a year of dialysis I sent out a bunch of apps and got several interviews. The renal and medical floors were very interested in giving me a chance, but I ended up taking an Ortho position because I got a better vibe on the floor when shadowing. You absolutely can transition from dialysis to hospital nursing and your assessment skills will be great from working in dialysis. Renal patients have so many comorbitites and so much going on, you get a good sense of putting it all together with labs and such. My advice is cast a wide net, apply everywhere within your willingness to commute. Be willing to take a pm spot, and be honest with what you need for training at the interview. Good luck!
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    Yes, the pm spot seems to be key when starting out. That is one good thing about dialysis- the hours are early for the most part and you have Sundays off (with chronic dialysis.) However, the early (4:30am) is hard to swallow so you will have to make a sacrifice somewhere.
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    I was in Acutes for 3 months. I also worked in chronic same time. It was interesting at first, but became borderline annoying and too repetitive for me. I did not have a life cos I worked 3 days in acutes + calls and 3 days in chronic. I thought I could do it. Reality set in after my few weeks of orientation and I was sitting in that ICU room for 4 hours + taking vitals every 15 mins not talking to a soul. The ICU nurses well... did whatever they had to do and I just felt like a tech. It all seemed too mechanical compared to the chronic setting. Needless to say, I chucked that by the 3rd month and picked more hours in chronic.

    I would have loved acutes if that was my only job. Repetitive, but I could have grown to like it. At that time, comparing the two, chronic just seemed to be more interesting and the patients (especially my TTS) were more understanding than acute. I do hope things have gotten better since Feb and you are more comfortable now. All the best.
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    I have since moved to Winston Salem, NC. My hubby got into residency at Wake so I had no choice. I am grateful for the experience at my dialysis center (despite the crazy techs and management). I want more from nursing and from life than repetition. You know how you study sooo much through school and to pass the almighty NCLEX. It is frustrating when all you use that knowledge for is to draw meds and do pre and post assessments... arrrrgh. I sometimes think to myself, maybe just maybe I can take a shot at medical school, but that sadly is not on my plate right now.

    I really would love to try my hands in the IMC, but from what everyone has suggested it looks like renal & medicine are good starting points and night shift? Will look at Forsyth and Wake Forest. Hopefully things work out well....
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    OP, Imo you just described med/surg. We have the same issues, if not more.
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    Sooo I got three interviews: at the IMC, ICU, and a diabetic Telemetry floor . I need to buckle up! Praying I make the right decision when I get the offer(s) Amen.


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