How Do You Become a Nephrology Nurse?

There is an array of specialties in the nursing field and individuals interested in working in nephrology may inquire of how to become a nephrology nurse. Nephrology is concerned with the anatomy, functioning, and diseases of the kidneys. Nephrology nurses provide care for pediatric, adult, and elderly patients with conditions and diseases affecting the kidneys. They help with evaluating, diagnosing, and treating patients. They also provide education to patients and caregivers of proper care when dealing with kidney conditions. Nephrology nurses work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, outpatient care centers, clinics, and patient homes. There are certain steps on how to become a nephrology nurse, such as earning a registered nursing degree, obtaining national licensure, and becoming certified.

Earning a Registered Nursing Degree

The first step on how to become a nephrology nurse is earning a registered nursing degree. Colleges and universities offer registered nursing degree programs at the diploma, associate and bachelor’s degree levels. Many schools also offer advanced degrees in nursing at the master’s and doctoral levels. Registered nursing degree programs typically include the completion of general education courses, nursing core courses, and clinical experiences. Examples of nursing courses include anatomy and physiology, nutrition, pharmacology, foundations of nursing practice, nursing care for older adults, nursing of children and families, mental health nursing, acute care nursing of adults, family and community nursing, and nursing leadership. During the registered nursing degree, some aspiring nephrology nurses complete elective courses in nephrology. Nursing students typically complete their clinical experiences in a variety of settings under the supervision of current registered nurses and nursing instructors.

Become State Licensed

After completion of an approved registered nursing program, aspiring nephrology nurses must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The exam is a standardized test administered by every state board of nursing. It determines if individuals are safely able to start practicing as entry-level nurses. It evaluates application and analysis using nursing know-how. Upon passing the NCLEX-RN exam, individuals will become registered nurses in the state in which they took the test.


Nephrology nurses must have specialized knowledge and while many train on the job, others complete additional education. Many nephrology nurses choose to earn the Certified Nephrology Nurse Certification in the specialty by receiving a satisfactory score on an examination. The Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission administers the exam. The general requirements for the certification include 3,000 hours of experience in a clinical nephrology setting and 30 hours of approved continuing education in nephrology.

Additional Requirements

To maintain certification and also stay abreast with research and advancements in nephrology, nephrology nurses must complete regular continuing education in nephrology. The American Association of Nephrology Nurses offers a variety of online modules and webinars on nephrology. Various other organizations also offer seminars, workshops, and conferences on the topics in the field. Nephrology nurses can also specialize further in the field, such as pediatric nephrology, dialysis, or kidney transplantation.

Related Resource: Pediatric Nurse

Nephrology nurses are an essential part of the medical team for patients suffering from a variety of conditions affecting the kidneys. The main goal of the team is to provide the best possible medical care for patients and improving and maintaining their quality of life. Completing a registered nursing degree, licensure, certification, and continuing education are essential on how to become a nephrology nurse.