November 7 marks the final day of Urologic Nurses and Associates Week, so Minority Nurse turned to Amy Hull MSN, RNC, WHNP-BC and president of the Society of Urologic Nurses and Associates (SUNA) to hear her thoughts on choosing this nursing path for a career.
Hull didn’t start her career in this specialty. She is a women’s health nurse practitioner by training, and she thought she would care for pregnant women for her entire career. About 15 years ago, while still seeking a niche in OB/GYN, a friend convinced her to try continence work, she says.
“I had no real understanding of continence issues and the real, devastating concerns incontinent patients experience,” Hull says. “However, as I stated, my friend and colleague convinced me to pursue this transition. I have not regretted that decision.”
In her practice as a urology nurse, Hull says her work can make a significant impact on her patients’ quality of life. Because patients with urologic conditions are often limited in the activities they can participate in without symptoms, the conditions can impact their physical, emotional, and mental health.
“Urologic concerns can arise during all phases of one’s life and affect men, women, and children,” she says. Hull says those in her profession offer education and care to enhance patients’ well being and sense of control over what may seem as uncontrollable issues and diagnoses.
Urologic Nurses Needed to Meet Demand
With such comprehensive care needed, Hull says urologic nurse staffing issues are pressing. “With fewer and fewer dedicated urology floors in hospitals, the hospital nursing staff are at risk of reduced education and reduced opportunities to achieve the needed skills to enable them to expertly care for their patients,” she says. “Without true, dedicated nursing education within our schools of nursing, the necessity falls to senior nurses to train new staff as well as our nursing organizations, such as SUNA.”
Luckily, Hull says the developments in the field are rapid, but nurses and associates in the field will need to continually fine-tune their skills and expand their knowledge to provide up-to-date care.
“Efforts to better understand the environment of the bladder are helping to better treat and prevent infections,” she says. “New and better surgical and non-surgical techniques are helping to provide improved outcomes for patients with such conditions as urologic cancers, pelvic organ prolapse, and incontinence.”
Getting Ahead in Urologic Nursing
Nurses interested in the career of urologic nursing should seek out mentors they can learn from. Seeking out professional development, education out of the place of work, and networking will help nurses in their careers and will keep them current.
As with other nursing specialties, Hull says urology certification is important. The Certification Board for Urologic Nurses and Associates (CBUNA) offers certification exams for MAs and LPNs, RNs, and advanced practice providers.
“SUNA provides urology education for MAs, LPNs, RNs, and advanced practice providers, such as NPs, PAs, and CNSs,” says Hull. The organization also has 29 local chapters nationwide where urologic nurses can find additional opportunities for education, and they can attend the Annual UroLogic conference or Advanced UroLogic Conference. SUNA has also developed the Scopes and Standards for Urologic Nursing which helps to define the specialty.
Having a positive impact on her patients’ lives keeps Hull enthusiastic and she encourages other nurses to consider this specialty.