A nephrologist is a physician who has completed three years of internal medicine training and an additional two to three years of specialized training in nephrology (kidney diseases). The nephrologist provides ongoing care for all kidney-related problems and general medical problems for all chronic dialysis patients. A nephrologist visits the dialysis unit on a regular basis to review patients' medical problems and test results. A nephrologist also sees each patient annually for a comprehensive examination and review of problems.
Dialysis nurses are registered nurses who have received additional training regarding the unique medical needs of chronic dialysis patients. They help provide hemodialysis in the center; train patients for self-care hemodialysis, home hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis; visit with patients at each hemodialysis treatment; and provide ongoing care, along with the nephrologist and nurse practitioner. The nurses are actively involved in teaching patients about their kidney disease, medical problems and chronic dialysis. Patient care technicians help the nurses with inserting needles into the hemodialysis access and monitor the hemodialysis equipment for patient safety. Nurses and patient care technicians provide emotional and psychological support and work with patients to help them adapt to chronic kidney failure.
A registered dietitian trained to care for patients with kidney disease is an integral part of our health care team. The dietitian sees all patients regularly. Patients with chronic kidney failure have special nutritional needs and require ongoing education about how many calories and how much protein, fluids, sodium, potassium and phosphorus they can take in.
A medical condition such as kidney failure places a great deal of emotional stress on the patient and her or his family. Mayo Clinic social workers help provide this emotional support. They also are knowledgeable about the financial implications of chronic kidney failure and are excellent resources for financial questions, delivery of in-home services, job retraining, physical therapy and rehabilitation.
Dialysis technicians provide preventive maintenance and repair hemodialysis equipment. They also are responsible for dialyzer (artificial kidney) resterilization and help maintain the safety and purity of the water that is used for hemodialysis. Members of this staff also help peritoneal dialysis and home hemodialysis patients obtain the proper equipment and supplies.