Dialysis Nurse

Dialysis Nurse Orientation

Spring, 1989

After giving four weeks notice to Staff Development, I started on day shift in dialysis for my orientation at 6 a.m. What a challenge to arise at 4:30 a.m. Every day I ask God to keep me awake and help me learn all the new information. (Remember, I’m the one who fell asleep in statistics class in college and during my nursing state boards.)  My preceptor is an experienced dialysis nurse. The first week I watched her set up the machine and cannulate (put the needle in) the special fistula that the surgeon created by connecting an artery and a vein together to create high blood flow. We use large-bore needles and put one in the vein to remove their dirty blood and the other in the artery to return their cleaned blood after the machine removes the impurities.

I watched videos to learn about kidney disease and how dialysis works, a complex process. I feel like a new grad all over again and go home totally exhausted daily from information overload. I asked the Lord to help me learn quickly. This is definitely the most complex and technical nursing I have ever done. I can see why they don’t hire new graduates.

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

To make matters more complicated, the unit just bought twelve new computerized Cobe 3000 dialysis machines, but we still have six older Fresenius machines that require more nurse calculations. We have a third type of machine in ICU. Thankfully, I won’t have to learn that one for a while. They don’t make me take call until I’ve worked here for six months and am totally comfortable with dialyzing someone independently. There is no one around on Sundays to ask questions while the dialysis nurse works alone in ICU. One has to troubleshoot independently when problems arise. I am learning to lean hard on the Lord.

Commit (roll) your way upon the Lord; trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:5

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