Dialysis Nurse

Dialysis Nurse?

Spring, 1989

Ever since returning from the mission trip to Honduras last fall, I have been asking the Lord if it is time to move on to a different type of nursing. After caring for patients in Honduras, it made me realize how much I miss direct patient interaction and bedside nursing. I have worked in Staff Development for six years and enjoyed teaching other nurses, but I am ready for a change. One of my colleagues in Staff Development recently transferred to outpatient dialysis part-time on the evening shift and likes the patients and staff. She said there is another opening for a nurse to work four evenings per week. They are closed every Sunday and on holidays, and each nurse works every other Saturday. The evening shift extra pay is good so my pay would stay the same even though I would be working one less day each week. Each RN takes call one Sunday four times per year to cover any emergency dialysis in the Intensive Care Unit.

The Lord gave me peace about applying for the position, so I did. The head nurse called me, interviewed me, and gave me a tour of the unit which is a free-standing building across the street from the hospital. The new unit is designed for dialysis with large windows and a nice open layout of eighteen recliner dialysis chairs. They do three shifts of patients a day Monday through Saturday. One nurse and one technician care for six patients.  Day shift dialyzes the 6 a.m. group of patients and starts the next group at 11 a.m. The evening shift works 2-10:30 pm and takes the middle group of patients off dialysis, and then starts and finishes the evening group of patients. They end by cleaning all the machines internally with bleach and vinegar.

The unit dialyzes 54 patients daily. Each patient comes to dialysis two or three times weekly to have their blood cleaned for several hours by the machine because their kidneys have stopped working. A number of the patients are waiting for kidney transplants. Some patients, especially on the evening shift, work all day and then come for dialysis at night. The main causes of kidney failure are diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure). Without dialysis, people die within a matter of weeks from kidney failure. Sometimes the patients become weary of dialysis and choose to take themselves off of it and go on hospice for their final days on earth.

The next day, the dialysis head nurse called me to offer me the evening position four days per week. I would keep my full-time benefits. She agreed to give me every Wednesday off. On the weeks that I worked Saturday, she said my day off would also be Thursday so on those weeks I would have two days off together in the middle of the week. The orientation is ten weeks on the day shift and the final two weeks on the evening shift. I would also need to become ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) certified so I could run a code if a patient had a cardiac arrest while I was dialyzing him in ICU. I told her I would consider it and let her know by the end of the week.

I went home and prayed for a few days and called my friend who works in dialysis to talk things over with her again. I could move my Bible Club to Wednesday afternoons and attend the prayer meeting at the church on Wednesday evenings. Since I would have every Sunday off, I could continue to teach Sunday School at church. I always enjoyed the evening shift when I was a new graduate because I have never been a morning person. By the end of the week, God gave me wonderful peace that this was His open door. I’m looking forward to this new chapter in my life.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 KJV)

Cobe 3000 dialysis machine I learned how to use.
Cobe 3000 dialysis machine I would learn how to use.

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