Nephrology nurses are a lifeline for patients who have kidney disease. This week’s National Nephrology Nurses Week helps bring attention to the specialty care nephrology nurses provide and the way they help their patients manage their disease and symptoms. Minority Nurse caught up with Phung Tran, MSN, MBA, RN, a member of the American Nephrology Nurses Association (ANNA) to find out more about a career in nephrology nursing and her own personal journey to becoming a nephrology nurse.
What does a career in nephrology nursing entail?
Nephrology nursing requires a strong set of communication and care management skills. Patient education is a crucial part of the nephrology nursing. Engaging patients to take an active role in their disease journey takes negotiating, active listening, and an empathetic approach to care. Taking the time to encourage patients to make small changes and to celebrate patients achieving set goals improve patient health outcomes. Planning, coordinating, and being proactive in care management allow for patients to live a productive and rewarding life. It provides patients the confidence to take control of their disease and not let the disease dictate their lives.
What training do you need?
Beyond the nursing school curriculum, there are specific training in the various modalities of kidney replacement therapies. Didactic and hands-on training focused on the disease process adds the specialty skill set for nephrology nursing. There are equipment and processes that demand proficiency in use and troubleshooting to enhance patient safety. Infection control and taking on the role of a patient educator and advocate provides another level of optimal patient care.
What attracted you to this area of nursing?
My husband is a chronic kidney disease patient. He was on hemodialysis for one year. His struggles and challenges motivated me to make an impact in this vulnerable patient population. The opportunity to engage and encourage patients to make small changes that lead to better health outcomes gives me great satisfaction in my professional contribution. I enjoy getting to know the patients and sharing in their journey. I am honored to hear their stories and how my care improves their quality of life to achieve their milestones.
What do you enjoy about this specialty?
I get to apply nursing care through conversations. It’s the open and honest dialogue of a life lived. Frank discussions of joys, struggles, and challenges allow patients to move beyond the disease. I enjoy the lighthearted and serious banter and negotiations that generate a bond of trust between a practitioner and patient.
How do you interact with patients?
Each encounter creates an opportunity to educate and learn. Using motivational interviewing skills, I actively listen without judgment to patient concerns and challenges. I seek to understand then ask the patient for viable options to meet their needs. I find generalized options and solutions often frustrate patients since they don’t meet the needs of the patients. Taking the time to get patients involved in their own care ensures follow through on the care plan.
Is there new technology that nephrology nurses use?
The ability to adapt and learn is what makes a nephrology nursing challenging and exciting. New equipment, processes, and procedures keep nephrology nursing evolving. The movement to give patients more flexibility in managing their treatment sparks innovations and initiatives.
Can you tell me a little bit about advancements in the field?
Professional advancements abound through various avenues of nephrology nursing. Mentorship and leadership development come from a strong and supportive professional association. The American Nephrology Nurses Association (ANNA) provides a collaborative group of nephrology nurses who strive to enhance the nephrology nursing profession. Networking opportunities to discover and explore jobs beyond clinical care exists in the ANNA collective.
What would you like nurses interested in this career path to know?
The learning curve is high. Give yourself patience and grace to learn from your struggles. As you find your stride, the reward comes from the incredible patient relationships and how your care impacts their quality of life. You can truly make a significant difference in patient lives.
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