What is Nephrology Nurse Practitioner?

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Metabolic syndrome, hypertension obesity, heart disease, and diabetes are precursors to developing kidney diseases. As baby boomers age, they are at risk for developing renal diseases. There is a shortage of qualified nephrologists in many locales. As a result, Certified Nephrology Nurse Practitioners are frequently providing care for patients living with diseases of the kidneys. 

Nephrology nurse practitioners are adult or family nurse practitioners who obtain advanced coursework and extensive experience caring for people who have kidney diseases and injuries.

While people of all ages may have kidney diseases, the majority are older adults with complex health problems. Many patients with kidney diseases also suffer from diabetes and heart failure. Renal patients may require specialized care for many years. They may need dialysis.

There is a long list of renal patients waiting for kidney transplants.

Nephrology nurse practitioners provide comprehensive health assessments. They order treatments, tests and diets. Nephrology nurse practitioners direct patient care and evaluate effectiveness of care provided to people with renal diseases.  

Nephrology Nurse Practitioners are registered nurses who have obtained national certification as nurse practitioners.

Nurse practitioners possess masters or doctoral degrees in nursing.  They obtain specialized coursework which prepares them for the nurse practitioner role. Students complete extensive internships with physicians and certified nurse practitioners. They must pass national board exams prior to practicing. Exams are administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center and American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

States are considering a proposal which would require a minimum of a Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree for certification as a nurse practitioner. The proposed date for the requirement is the year 2015. Each state will make its own rulings regarding the proposal.

Nurse practitioners seeking Certified Nephrology Nurse- Nurse Practitioner certification are required to have a minimum of two thousand hours of experience providing services to renal patients in the two year period prior to applying for certification. Experience must be obtained while working in a nurse practitioner role.

The applicant must complete sixty hours of continuing education specifically related to nephrology within the two years preceding applying for certification. Applicants should contact the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission before enrolling in continuing education programs to ensure that the continuing education provider is approved and credits will be granted. 

The scope of practice of nurse practitioners varies widely among individual states. Nurse practitioners make referrals for therapies, treatments, and diagnostic tests.  They order diets, exercises and medical equipment. Medication prescribing capacities vary depending upon individual state rules. In some jurisdictions, nurse practitioners work independently. However,  in most states nurse practitioners are required to collaborate with a physician.

Nephrology nurse practitioners are employed by hospitals, Chronic Kidney Disease clinics, primary care practices, and dialysis centers.  Home dialysis offered by many dialysis centers. The nephrology nurse practitioner may make visits to patients’ homes. Nephrology nurse practitioners provide services as consultants. They are an integral part of multidisciplinary healthcare teams providing care to patients suffering from diseases of the kidneys.

Nephrology nurse practitioners screen patients to see if they have chronic or acute kidney diseases. Screening is an essential method of saving lives and preventing complications due to renal failure.

Nephrology nurse practitioners conduct comprehensive physical assessments and formulate plans of care. They order and interpret diagnostic tests. They treat chronic and acute health issues. Nephrology nurse practitioners order and teach patients about medically prescribed diets and fluid restrictions. They treat anemia and fluid imbalances. Nephrology nurse practitioners evaluate electrolyte and mineral statuses of patients.

Certified nephrology nurse practitioners provide referrals to specialists, and support patients who are waiting for or who have received kidney transplants. They keep lists of patients needing kidney transplants up to date.

Nurse practitioners refer patients with end stage renal disease for hospice services.

They help coordinate community resources that improve the quality of life for their patients. Certified Nephrology Nurse – Nurse Practitioners  collaborate with medical doctors, nurses, social workers and many other members of the health care team in order to ensure excellent quality care and proper utilization of resources. 

The occupational forecast for Certified Nephrology Nurse - Nurse Practitioners is excellent.   The average annual salaries of nephrology  nurse practitioners ranges from $88,000 to $100,000 dollars annually. Regional differences exist.  Salaries are higher in large metropolitan areas. Nephrology nurse practitioners are commonly eligible for excellent employee benefit packages. Some employers offer profit sharing opportunities. 

  • Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission (http://www.nnccexam.org)
  • American Nephrology Nurses Association (http://www.annanurse.org)
  • Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission (www.nncc.org)
  • American Association of Nurse Practitioners (www.aanp.org)

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