What is your opinion about Hemodialysis nursing?
I am re-entering nursing at the end of June.
I am completing a refresher class and taking ACLS, before the end of June. My previous background was in CCU and CVU.
At age 50, I do not know is I still have the ability to do 12 hour night shifts.
I am looking for a challenging environment that will provide reasonable hours and good pay.
Here is my experience. I was 45 w/ 2 years med-surg experience and went to HD because I was really interested in building relationships with the clients, making a difference in people’s lives, and the specific disease process.
Out-patient clinic, 20 chairs, 2 shifts a day (some clinics have 3). There were 3 positions for nurses at my clinic: charge, med nurse, or tech. If any one called in the med nurse was pulled to work a zone (tech-work, string the machine, stick the pt, start and monitor patient, charting with 30 minute v/s, end treatment, clean the chair & machine and string machine for next patient). Shift change was extremely busy (take 1 off, get them to hemostasis safely and wound dressed, up out of chair/disinfected/strung/tested and the next one in and started all the while monitoring the other patients in the zone and documenting their V/S.)
I thought I would be teaching the patient all about ESRD and treatments, and therapeutic communication and symptom management with lab monitoring, interventions when patients suffered complications.
Instead I was running like a dog, from 0600 to 1745 four days a week. It was not safe. The patients did not get the monitoring they needed. They did not get the education that is critical for this particular disease process. It was physically demanding (bending and squatting to clean/string the machine, bending over at awkward angles to hold pressure to a site for 10 minutes because the patient can’t and you cannot use a clamp on that patient for whatever reason, cleaning blood up off the floor all the time as patients were urged to get up and out before they had clotted and were always bleeding all over the floor, fingers chapped from stringing machines and handwashing, gloves on and off 56 times a day, lifting patients from wheelchairs to HD chairs and back, carrying jugs of dialysate or acid from the water room/supply room to the floor – and this is all I can think of right off the top of my head).
I was told it is a fast-paced environment. That was a lie – it was a rushed, unsafe environment. The patients were way down on the list of priorities when staffing and scheduling. I lasted 4 months, was told “it will be 6 months before you start feeling confident about the job you do”. I am a great nurse. The only way I would ever feel good about that daily fiasco was if I lowered my standards to what everyone else appeared to be satisfied with so I quit. And when I told the patients, ¾ of the responses were to the tune of “I know. All the good ones leave. I know why darling. I wish you the best”.
You asked for my opinion. There is my 2 cents worth. Good Luck in whatever you do.
Thank you for your honest response.
What types of shifts were available for you, during your hemodialysis experience?
CCU is an area of past passion. BUT the night shift is an area of concern. I know day shift is an option, but I am assuming that coming back to nursing, I will have limited options.
I have heard from others about the potential questionable working conditions at hemodialysis units.
Thank you again.