Following a specialism in nursing can lead to a very secure career, and brings the satisfaction of knowing you're an expert in your field. Fresenius have been kind enough to explain the day-to-day functions and role of a dialysis nurse job, working for NHS clients. About Matt Farrah - follow me on Google+

Interview by Matt Farrah

Fresenius has been providing NHS dialysis services for over 20 years. How many nursing staff work for Fresenius, and how many patients are under its care?

We have 435 pure nursing staff in England & Wales (not including Clinical Managers, Dialysis Assistants or Health Care Assistants).  There are currently over 4000 patients attending clinics for regular dialysis and these patients attend clinics 3 or more times a week. There are over 400,000 dialysis sessions each year.

Can you explain the day to day job role of a dialysis nurse?

- Ensuring that the patients receive the correct medication and time on dialysis machines

- Monitoring and evaluating the patients throughout the time they are undergoing treatment

- Recording all treatments given per patient and identifying any changes to the patient's health

- Raising and recording any concerns and adjusting care plan where needed

- Preparing dialysis machines and medications specific to every patient's needs

There’s also ongoing training and personal development, and supporting and mentoring less qualified colleagues

If someone is interested in becoming a renal nurse, what skills, experience and qualifications do you look for?

At times we can only hire renal experienced nurses for jobs to clinics where the skill mix is low in relevant experience. In that circumstance, if we were to recruit another non-experienced renal nurse, it could jeapordise the safety of patients.

Generally though we are able to accept recently qualified nurses as although they may not have a depth of experience they have a natural desire to learn and progress. We accept nurses from all experience areas if they have a passion for ensuring quality care and well being of the patients, they are willing to learn, they can communicate well and work in a team spirited way.

The essential requirement is an NMC nursing pin (and the right to live and work in the UK), the other requirements are more of the softer skills.

In terms of a career move, what kind of training opportunities are available to nurses?

The Clinic Managers report that it takes about 12 months to become a true dialysis expert. Nurse training for those joining us without relevant dialysis experience will start their time with us by observing an experienced colleague - this supernumerary approach continues for a minimum of a month and then nurses are mentored until deemed competent (this is all very closely documented and monitored).

Ongoing, we support nurses to obtain renal qualifications which will help them to progress from nurse to Team Leader and so on.

Can you outline some of the key skill and personal characteristics that make for a good renal nurse?

Our patients attend on a regular basis (several times a week) so there should be a strong nurse/patient relationship built up and the ideal nurse can manage this at the right professional level.  

Attention to detail will be key as every patient requires a different combination of medication and treatment for their condition. A caring, supporting and understanding nature is good as some patients' life style choices don't help their condition.

Finally, why do people choose to specialise in dialysis nursing jobs - what are the rewards and benefits?

I believe because this treatment can extend patients’ lives significantly.  It really makes a difference to people and that's a key reason for the majority of nurses choosing this profession - to make a real difference and provide care to those with poor health.  Other rewards are that this area of renal dialysis is extremely specialist and the skills gained are very sought after.  It should ensure a stable employment for life.