Recognizing the Essential Role of Dialysis Nurses
For patients who experience kidney failure, life becomes very different. The once seemingly distant word “dialysis” may become an unavoidable part of life accompanied by medications, dietary changes and fluid restrictions. Adjusting to dialysis treatments may be overwhelming. Patients and their family members are usually anxious and uncertain as they enter dialysis facilities for the first time.
Anxiety is relieved as patients and their family members are educated on how to have dialysis around their lives versus live their lives around dialysis. Uncertainty fades away as patients are cared for with compassion, competence and confidence. And, these feelings of anxiety and uncertainty are replaced by other feelings. Other feelings such as hope, empowerment and autonomy, despite the need for dialysis treatments.
How do such substantial and nearly unimaginable transitions occur? Who is responsible for leading this change? The answer to both questions is dialysis nurses. Dialysis nurses certainly provide obvious care interventions. They complete physical assessments, provide medications and carry out physicians’ orders. They participate in the creation of plans of care, utilize protocols and provide patient education. However, the profession of dialysis nursing involves more than the skills and responsibilities one would discover on a job description.
Dialysis nurses work closely with nephrologists to provide nephrology care to patients. They are a critical component of interdisciplinary care teams. However, perhaps the most important treasure they offer isn’t documented in medical records. It’s in the simpler interventions such as holding a patient’s hand when he or she is scared. Interventions such as hugging a patient’s loved one and encouraging the loved one not to neglect to care for him or herself while caring for the patient. Interventions that are not found in policy procedure books, but that are just as critical to restoring health.
May 6-12, 2017, is National Nurses Week. Please take time to recognize our dialysis nurses who provide care in a way our patients will never forget. May all the care, comfort, and compassion our nurses dispense on a daily basis come back to them this special week.