Describe to me the position of a dialysis nurse.
A renal technologist/nurse will firstly be responsible for educating a patient on their diagnosis of renal failure. What this means for their lifestyle, their families, and ultimately what type of renal replacement therapy they will have to choose that would fit their lifestyle. The options are Hemodialysis, Peritoneal Dialysis and/or Transplantation.
In a Hemodialysis unit, a patient will attend treatment usually 3 times per week for 4 hours per session. In the unit, the clinical staff tends to patient care in the sense of diet, medication and blood results education, connecting and disconnecting patients from therapy, handling any medical emergency situations that might occur, whilst working with a multi-disciplinary team on the patients overall health and wellness.
With Peritoneal Dialysis, patients are trained to do their own dialysis treatment from home in the form of putting a glucose based fluid in their abdomen, surrounded by the peritoneum. Clinical staff assists here again with education of diet, medication and blood results. Ordering of the dialysis fluid to be delivered monthly to the patients’ house, home visits and tube changes also form part of what the clinical staff’s responsibilities.
Transplantation is when the patient will get a kidney transplant from either a live donor or a cadaver. If the renal failure is diagnosed in the early stages, then a patient can start his transplant work-up even before needing the 2 abovementioned therapies. Here again, the patient works with a large team of medical specialists, including the renal technologist/nurse, to do an array of medical tests, to make sure they are stable enough to receive a kidney transplant. If a live donor is donating the patient a kidney, they also undergo extensive testing, to make sure they have no underlying illnesses that can prevent them from donating.
As a team leader, how would you lead your team?
You need to be a strong and knowledgeable leader, as this is a specialized field. But being a leader, means being with all your other staff in working with patients on every level, to educate both the patient and your other team members. Being able to also step up and communicate on a higher level with the various Doctors these patients have, but also being able to get down to a patients level and explain complex concepts to them.
How flexible is your schedule?
The schedule more or less is planned around what renal replacement therapy the patient is on. In a Hemodialysis unit, the patients have set days and times they are to attend treatment in the unit. With Peritoneal Dialysis, patients have their set times daily to do their treatments at home. The renal technologist/nurse will have set appointment dates for home visits, training, stock delivery and tube changes with these patients. In transplantation, it will depend if the kidney is from a live donor or a cadaver. With a live donor, the patient and donor will have a set date for donation and transplantation. However, if the patient is on the transplant list for a cadaver kidney, they can receive that call at any time of day or night, and patients and clinical staff needs to be flexible for that situation.