So I've been a dialysis nurse for two weeks. I am a second career nurse who spent the first year of licensure as a psych nurse and then decided to make the switch to dialysis for many reasons. I am training at a Davita clinic in the Pittsburgh region right now. My training is 9 weeks in orientation and then three more weeks of independent practice with oversight until I'm on my own completely with my own assignment.
I honestly had no idea what to expect. I couldn't even shadow for the job before accepting it because of Covid. I can say I am very pleasantly surprised at how much I am enjoying it so far. Here are my thoughts:
I was worried to begin about being trained by a PCT. In the hospital, the PCT's have far fewer responsibilities and I just couldn't see the value. NOW, I do. The PCT training me is amazing. PCT's in dialysis do so much more and have so many more responsibilities than hospital PCT's and her knowledge is vast. I understand this may vary depending on who's training you - but my preceptor is awesome at her job and she's been there 10 years. The RN preceptor has been there 9 years as well. Everyone I've met has been with Davita for a very long time, giving me a positive image of the company.
I learned to set up the machines this week and I am up to doing 3 machines in an hour and helping at turnover getting machines set up. Apparently, this is pretty fast for a brand new person. So I feel like I'm making progress. The flow of the unit is starting to make sense to me as well and I like the pace. Super busy getting everyone on the machines, then time to get caught up and talk to patients, and then it's time to take patients off and put new people on and you are super busy again. The ebb and flow is something I like.
I was concerned about PCT's pulling meds for patients, but then I realized once on the unit that it's pretty limited and very little room for error. The nurse verifies that the PCT pulled the right about of heparin before it's given. All other meds are given by the nurse. This fact seemed missed in a lot of the posts I'd read prior to starting.
I really enjoy talking to the patients and I'm excited to learn about cannulation next. Right now I am independent up to the point of putting the patient on the machine, including charting.
There isn't much bad. Getting up at 3am is tougher than I thought. But I work 4am -2pm right now and I like getting home in the afternoon.
The class portion is interesting to me, but tough because PCT's and nurses are trained together for the first 12 weeks. The PCT's that I'm working with are amazing because they've been there a long time and succeeded within the company. My training class is another story. Not everyone makes it. And I can tell that some won't. Coming in late, one was sleeping during class, talking back, rudeness, unprofessional. It's tough because the entry-level for the PCT is nothing. No experience needed. All training on the job. So you have people coming straight from working retail or fast food and coming into a professional environment and some just don't know how to behave. There are 8 people in my class. Three nurses, the rest PCT's and of my PCT classmates I can see two making it as they are professional and eager to learn. Lack of previous education does not make one unsuccessful as a PCT, but some of the people literally have no desire to be there except that it makes more money than other entry-level jobs. I feel like the PCT turnover has to be extremely high.
I wish nurses were trained separately but I understand why they are not. We are all learning the same things from the ground up. It's just hard being in class with others who don't care, can't keep up with what page we are on, know literally NOTHING about medical terminology and talk back to the amazing instructor we have.
The only other bad is the chairside charting system. It is SO OUTDATED and not very user friendly. They are supposed to be getting a new system which will integrate all of their systems and I think that will help a lot. Right now there are several different systems and they don't talk to each other.
Other than the class frustration, I've found my first two weeks at Davita to be really good. I'm loving the company culture and the people I've met. I can see myself here for a long time. I hope. I am pleasantly surprised at dialysis nursing. I am still on task mode but am starting to piece together why certain things are done and how that affects the patients. The rationales will come. But for now, I'm happy!