Acute dialysis nursing: What does this kind of dialysis deal with?

Dialysis treatment acts as a filter for the body of people facing kidney disease and kidney failure when the kidneys do not function properly. Whereby, assistance in the form of dialysis is required in order to remove toxins.

However, the treatment may vary depending on the circumstances. This is because dialysis is divided into two categories: acute and chronic.

But what is the difference between the two, and what is the focus of acute dialysis?

This article describes acute dialysis treatment and the differences between acute and chronic, how much they earn approximately in the U.S. and much more.

What is acute renal failure?

This type of kidney failure occurs suddenly and is often reversible. It is caused by accident, illness, infection, shock, injury or ingestion of a poison or drug.

The kidneys then stop producing urine and poisons begin to accumulate in the bloodstream, leaving the patient unconscious or confused and overloaded with fluids.

On the positive side, if a special diet is followed, fluid restrictions and treatment of kidney function can return to normal.

And unlike chronic renal failure, which is a gradual loss and complete cessation of kidney function, this one comes on quickly and is curable.

Some differences between acute and chronic dialysis nurses

Where they work

Chronic dialysis nurses typically work in clinics. In addition, schedules are more uniform and work is usually predictable.

On the other hand, emergency dialysis nurses work in hospitals with patients who require emergency dialysis, often due to some sort of injury or kidney damage. In this sense, it is a faster-paced environment and depends on the workload of the patients and the hospital.

Relationships with patients

Often, acute dialysis, because of its suddenness, does not give dialysis nurses the opportunity to communicate as closely with patients and families, and even makes it difficult to communicate with them about the procedure.

Chronic dialysis is a different story. Because chronically ill patients feel more comfortable and are more familiar with the procedure, chronic dialysis nurses can develop closer relationships with those who regularly present for treatment.


Acute dialysis nurses may be better paid than chronic dialysis nurses from an economic standpoint because they may receive on-call pay in addition to their regular salary.  However, a chronic dialysis job may be more attractive to someone looking for stability and a regular schedule.

In the United States, for example, the approximate salary of a dialysis nurse can vary depending on the level of education and experience, the size of the hospital or clinic where they work, and the location, as each state can vary.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for acute dialysis nurses is expected to be 9% by 2030, a rate that is considered average compared to other professions.

  • Average annual salary: $85,000 ($40.87/hour).
  • Top 10% of annual salary: $115,000 ($55.29/hour).

Acute dialysis nurse job duties

Acute dialysis nurses have a wide range of responsibilities, which may include:

  • Educating patients about the changes they need to make, in order to improve their health. These include: reducing sodium intake and increasing physical activity.
  • Maintaining equipment to make sure it is working properly.
  • Preparing patients for dialysis by cleaning their wounds and applying dressings if necessary.
  • Cleaning the dialysis space before, during and after treatments.
  • Administer medications and treatment to patients based on their individual needs.
  • Educate patients about their condition and treatment plan, answer questions about their condition, and provide emotional support.
  • Monitor patient’s vital signs, including blood pressure, pulse rate, respiratory rate and temperature.
  • Observing patients for signs of pain, infection or other problems and reporting them to physicians or other health care personnel.

Requirements to work as an acute dialysis nurse in the U.S.

In order to work as an acute dialysis nurse, you must first meet the following requirements:

  • Education: to be a dialysis nurse minimum must have ADN (associate degree in nursing) or a BSN (bachelor’s of in nursing). Although some employers prefer candidates with an MSN (master’s of science in nursing).
  • Training and experience: Training and experience are of utmost importance in getting a job as an acute dialysis nurse.

However, they usually receive most of their training and experience through their educational programs. In addition, they receive it on the job from their employers.

  • Certifications and licenses: Acute dialysis nurses must be certified in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and BLS (basic life support). They must know how to perform CPR on a patient in cardiac arrest or other life-threatening condition. In addition to your degree, you need to be certified in acute care nursing.

On the other hand, they must also be able to use a manual defibrillator to deliver an electric shock to the patient’s heart in an attempt to restore its normal rhythm.

Acute dialysis nursing skills

In order to provide effective and successful care, universities in the United States recommend the following skills that acute dialysis nurses should have:

  • Medical knowledge: as health care personnel they should have a solid knowledge of the human body and its functions. They should also know how to identify and treat common medical conditions and ailments that may occur during an acute dialysis session.

Not to mention, they must know the different types of machines and the various treatment methods that can be used.

  • Critical thinking: Critical thinking is of utmost importance as they must be able to make quick decisions about patient care, including what treatments to administer and what actions to take if a patient’s condition changes.
  • Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.

Being an acute dialysis nurse involves having empathy for patients, both in their feelings and their needs.

  • Communication: Acute dialysis nurses must be able to and know how to communicate with patients and their families or other medical staff.

When communicating, they must know how to explain the treatment and answer any questions. Not to mention, the importance of communicating effectively with medical staff will ensure that the patient progresses as expected.

  • Organization: one of the vital skills is organization. Acute dialysis nurses must be able to organize their time and tasks effectively.

Being able to organize your workspace and supplies can also help save time and reduce stress.


Acute dialysis nurses have a unique and rewarding career path. They work in hospitals, clinics and other healthcare settings with patients who need short-term hemodialysis treatments.

And as healthcare workers, they have to know how to manage their time, always apply benevolence and be constantly learning in order to always provide the best possible care.


Marlene J. Shockley

My name is Marlene J. Shockley, and I am a Registered Nurse (RN). I have always been interested in helping people and Nursing seemed like the perfect career for me. After completing my Nursing Degree, I worked in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, and home health care. I have also had the opportunity to work as a Travelling Nurse, which has allowed me to see different parts of the country and meet new people. No matter where I am working, I enjoy getting to know my patients and their families and helping them through whatever medical challenges they may be facing.