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Celebrating Nephrology Nurses Week, September 13-19
The American Nephrology Nurses Association (ANNA) has designated the second full week in September each year as Nephrology Nurses Week, starting in 2005. This year, we celebrate Nephrology Nurses Week Sept. 13-19, with the theme “Nephrology Nurses Aspire to Excellence.” This is a time for all of us in the kidney care community to honor the life-giving work of nephrology nurses everywhere.
Nephrology nurses and the care they give play a vital role in the life of a person with kidney disease. Patients with kidney disease rely on their nephrology nurses’ skills, knowledge and expertise to ensure the safety and effectiveness of their life-saving care. Nephrology nurses answer questions about kidney disease and treatment, and help assess their patients’ health needs. Every day, they make a positive impact on the lives of patients and families.
Nephrology nurses who work in home dialysis (peritoneal dialysis and home hemodialysis) must also be great teachers. They teach their patients how to perform their own treatments at home and help them understand what to do if any complications arise during their treatment.
In 2020, COVID-19 (coronavirus) has highlighted the importance of nephrology nurses even more. In the face of a pandemic and in a time when immunocompromised dialysis patients have even more questions and concerns, nephrology nurses have stayed flexible and adapted to frequent changes with new guidelines and safety measures to help keep patients safe and comfortable.
Many nephrology nurses have made incredible personal sacrifices to do their part in fighting this pandemic, including some who have traveled across the country to help patients. DaVita acute dialysis nurse Luke Mayes volunteered to join the front line in New York state, one of the areas hardest hit by COVID-19. He left his husband and their children in Idaho to support the needs of fellow dialysis nurses and their patients in New York. Luke volunteered to go to New York for the same reason he became a dialysis nurse—he felt called to help people and knew this was how he could help the most.
On his experience serving in New York, Luke said, “I’ve seen nurses who are tired beyond measure, but they smile with their eyes because masks are covering their mouths. The local nurses in New York are so incredibly thankful for the added help. The work that nurses everywhere are doing can’t be accurately described.”
As the pandemic continues, the kidney community—and the population in general—faces yet another challenge: an increasing nurse shortage. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States will need an additional 203,700 registered nurses each year through 2026 to fill replacement and newly created positions due to an increase in nurses retiring and growing health care needs from an aging population (the Baby Boomer generation). The nephrology industry is not immune to this shortage.
To aid in the expansion of the nephrology nurse workforce while helping their employees succeed, DaVita is helping their clinical teammates earn nursing degrees through the Bridge to Your Dreams program. In 2020, DaVita has expanded this tuition and support program by providing comprehensive resources to help support and guide selected DaVita patient care technicians, licensed vocational nurses and licensed practical nurses currently employed with the company to advance their education.
It is also important to keep the experienced nurses we have. How can we retain essential nephrology nurses? One way is through support. According to Mandy Hale, chief nursing officer for DaVita, “In general, nurses will remain in positions where they experience rewards and recognition for their work. So, I really feel that is a critical piece of support as well. And then it’s important to allow nurses, once they start to gain experience, allow them to practice with a lot of autonomy and provide all sorts of opportunities for career mobility and those sorts of things.” Hear more about retaining nephrology nurses here.
Be sure to thank the nephology nurses who work alongside you and let them know how much you care. Below are some ideas for different ways to show your appreciation:
- A hand-written note or e-card expressing your thanks.
- A public thank-you and acknowledgement of their hard work.
- A sweet treat or basket of healthy snacks.
- A small gift, such as a stethoscope charm.
- A gift card to their favorite coffee shop.