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The Importance of Education for Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease
To say that I was not an early adopter of the Kidney Smart® patient education program is an understatement. When the program was first introduced to me, I completely dismissed it as “just another DaVita initiative.” It wasn’t until several months after first hearing about Kidney Smart that I began to understand how beneficial this community resource can be for patients with advanced chronic kidney disease.
After some strong encouragement, I attended a Kidney Smart class and was completely surprised by how engaged patients and family members were in the discussion. I was also taken aback by how wide-ranging the education topics were. This was not just another conversation on modality choices; it was truly 90 minutes of discussion revolving around living with kidney disease. During that class, I listened to discussions about diet, NSAIDs, glucose control, and preemptive kidney transplants, and a great conversation regarding palliative care options.
As I began to recommend my patients to Kidney Smart, I noticed the depth and quality of questions patients and their family members were able to articulate after the class was significantly different than before they attended. It became easier to engage my patients in frank discussions about difficult issues such as end-of-life care, the benefits of home dialysis and patients’ options surrounding employment while on dialysis.
Education for our patients doesn’t start or end with Kidney Smart, but I have been pleased with this community education resource and credit the Kidney Smart educators in my city with having a tremendously positive impact on the patients I have recommended and how they proceed with their care. The improved clinical outcomes for patients who attend a Kidney Smart class are a strong motivation to recommend the class, and for me, experiencing the deeper level of understanding that my patients and their caregivers achieve has been highly rewarding.