DaVita Medical Insights

Want to be a Better Clinician? Learn from a Nephrology Nurse

Nephrology specialists and dialysis organizations are continuously searching for the best possible ways to safely and effectively care for patients with renal issues. One of these efforts involves maintaining consistent, high-quality care for patients while care team members leave a dialysis clinic and new team members join. When new clinicians join the dialysis team, existing dialysis team members can play an important role in passing knowledge and ensuring the new clinicians’ success. Veteran nephrology nurses, who are central members of a care team, can particularly play a critical role in sharing knowledge and helping new clinicians excel in their roles.

I know this first hand as a nephrologist: I have learned much over the years from my nursing colleagues. As a second year resident in Houston, I used to spend time in the hospital dialysis suite. The tremendous education I received from our nurses was unparalleled. Later, as a renal fellow, I spent time in our university’s outpatient center. It was again the competent, confident and compassionate nurses who helped me understand what REALLY to do when a patient became hypotensive or developed cramps. They helped me learn how to engage better with patients who struggled to attend their dialysis treatments or adhere to their plans of care. More than any textbook, this knowledge shared by nephrology nurses made me a better renal fellow and ultimately a better physician.

And, of course, the education did not stop. When I entered private practice, it was once again the tremendous team of nurses that taught me how to really care for patients with end stage renal disease.

This same tradition of teaching is also invaluable within a dialysis organization. As mentioned earlier, with new care team members entering the field, seasoned nurses can make a great professional impact. Sharing pearls of wisdom, data learned at conferences and knowledge gained from professional organizations, texts and clinical lectures are the greatest gifts nurses and other care team members can give to the next generation of clinicians. How better to serve society than to dedicate our careers to both patients and new colleagues?

To meet the growing clinical and psychosocial needs of our patients, we must engage in an all-hands-on-deck approach. For this reason, in both the outpatient and inpatient dialysis care settings, nephrologists are beginning to embrace the idea and importance of interdisciplinary teams—and the importance of collaborating with and learning from other members of the team. The veteran nephrology nurse, dedicated to both professional improvement of self and the education of others, is the lynchpin to these interdisciplinary teams.

This Nephrology Nurses’ Week, we nephrologists salute those we work side by side with, day and night, to serve the needs of our patients, each other and our world. Thank you nephrology nurses for your unwavering commitment to the stakeholders of your profession.

Jeffrey Giullian, MD, MBA

Jeffrey Giullian, MD, MBA

Jeffrey Giullian, MD, serves as chief medical officer of hospital services, vice president of medical affairs and national group medical director at DaVita Kidney Care. He leads the clinical quality and safety efforts for hospital services, helps lead the group medical directors and plays an active role in improving physician experience. Dr. Giullian relies on his past experiences in private practice and hospital leadership to advocate for physicians and medical directors. Dr. Giullian is active with the Renal Physicians Association (RPA) as a member of the Board of Directors, chairman of the Healthcare Payment Committee and member of the RPA’s team of advisors to the American Medical Association Relative Value Units Utilization Committee. Dr. Giullian trained in nephrology and transplantation at Vanderbilt University and received his MBA from the University of Colorado at Denver. Twitter: @Dr_Giullian_MD