Nephrology Nurses Week is marked during the second full week of September (this year from September 10-16) and honors nurses who specialize in the care and functions of the kidneys. For Nephrology Nurses Week, Faith Lynch DNP, RN, CNN and a national director of the American Nephrology Nurses Association (ANNA) talked with Minority Nurse about a nephrology nursing career path.
What issues are front and center for nurses in this specialty today?
In nephrology nursing, the issues that are front and center are the lack of nephrology nurses going into the specialty. It is a very undiscussed specialty in nursing school which does a disservice to the patients in need. In nephrology nursing, especially dialysis, we are performing an invasive procedure that is life sustaining for patients with end-stage kidney disease. It is the only procedure that a physician orders and a nurse carries out. Bringing awareness to the nephrology nursing specialty is a huge priority for the American Nephrology Nurses Association.
How has technology changed nephrology nursing and approaches to treatment?
Technology and innovation are changing nephrology nursing practice and approaches to treatment in so many ways. Dialysis machines are getting smaller and more compact instead of being large and bulky. You can monitor your patients with different technology to allow for better treatments and you are able to spot complications before they occur with the technology coming out.
What medical advances are most exciting and promising for nurses to see?
I feel that nephrology nurses love the innovation that keeps coming out with all of these new devices. Dialysis is the same process as it was 40 years ago, but the devices are allowing nurses to use a more individualized patient-centered care approach. Safety on the machines has come a long way, which is great for nurses but most importantly the patients. A new smart patch that uses remote patient monitoring for patients with chronic kidney disease and end-stage kidney disease can read hemoglobin and hematocrit as well as potassium. This can be a game changer for the population we serve.
Why is nephrology nursing such a great career option?
Nephrology nursing is such a great career option. It has brought me so much opportunity for growth in my career as well as challenges. Nurses do not realize that nephrology nursing is a broad term as there are so many different things you can do–you can work in dialysis (acute or chronic setting), a nephrology practice, transplant, education, administration, pediatrics, and more. You never get bored and feel complacent.
It is a nursing specialty that is unlike many as you develop such different relationships with your patients. It is the one thing that we, as nephrology nurses, cherish most. You make a difference in these patients’ lives as they see you more than they see their own families sometimes. It truly is the “work of heart.”
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