DaVita® Medical Insights


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Recognizing the Essential Role of Nephrology 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 nephrology nurses. These 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 nephrology nursing involves more than the skills and responsibilities one would discover on a job description.

Nephrology nurses work closely with nephrologists to provide kidney 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.

September 9 through 15, 2018, is Nephrology Nurses Week.  Please take time to recognize our 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.

Amanda “Mandy” Tilton, DNP, MSN, MBA, RN, CNN

Amanda “Mandy” Tilton, DNP, MSN, MBA, RN, CNN

Mandy Tilton, DNP, MSN, RN, chief nursing officer for DaVita, leads the nursing strategy at DaVita Kidney Care. She started with DaVita in 2001 as a patient care technician while completing nursing school, and after graduation, served as clinical coordinator, then facility administrator and then regional operations director. These responsibilities included all modalities and both chronic and acute dialysis. She has served as chairwoman of the Nurses & Technician Council for the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois and is currently on the board of directors. Mandy has delivered multiple clinical and operational presentations to groups in the kidney care industry. Mandy holds an associate’s in nursing degree from Kishwaukee College in Malta, Illinois, and a bachelor of science in nursing and a master of science in nursing degree from Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois. Additionally, she earned her MBA from Lewis University. She obtained her doctorate of nursing practice degree from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois and currently serves and adjunct faculty for the University.