The compassionate work and care of all nurses deserves to be celebrated, and throughout the year, different branches of the nursing profession get the chance to spotlight their unique duties.

This week, September 10 to 17, is National Nephrology Nurses Week, sponsored by the American Nephrology Nurses Association (ANNA), and honors the work nurses do with patients who have kidney disease or are at risk for impaired kidney function.

The need in this area is great. According to the National Kidney Foundation, one in seven adults has chronic kidney disease. Many people don’t realize they have a current disease and many of those who are at risk are also unaware.

Many sub-specialties exist within nephrology nursing, so nurses in this area have many choices. To advance their careers and gain more knowledge, nurses can become certified through the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission in becoming a nephrology nurse nurse practitioner, a certified nephrology nurse, or a certified dialysis nurse (several technical certifications exist as well).

With a varied and diverse population, nephrology nurses work with all ages of patients from the youngest patients to the oldest. They can work in healthcare settings ranging from hospitals to home care, but may also choose to pursue research, policy work in government, or a position in academia.

Renal disease can impact anyone, so nurses become comfortable helping patients with prevention, with deciding on treatment options, and guiding them to administer self care and monitoring. And while many patients are relieved to know their kidney disease can be managed, sometimes the care options (like needing dialysis) are a daunting prospect when patients first hear it. They rely on the compassionate, professional, and expert nursing care to help understand and adapt to their diagnosis. Nephrology nurses must have broad knowledge and care for the whole body as kidney function impacts so many physical systems.

Many kidney patients have additional conditions making their care especially complex, so a nurse who wants to get into the nephrology field needs to be able to work comfortably on a team to understand the complexities of care.

In a public letter celebrating National Nephrology Nurses Week, Alice Hellebrand, MSN, RN, CNN, and 2017-2018 ANNA president, said, “Nephrology nurses use their vision, knowledge, and skills to take action and improve patient outcomes. They make a positive difference in the lives of patients and their families every day. Individuals with kidney failure rely on the skills, knowledge, and expertise of nephrology nurses to ensure the safety and effectiveness of their life-saving care.”

Thanks to all the nephrology nurses out there!

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil is a freelance writer based in Bolton, Massachusetts.
Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

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