Recognizing Nephrology Nurses During National Kidney Month
March 6, 2022
At KCP, we are proud to represent a diverse coalition of organizations that represent the entire kidney community. We know that quality kidney care is only possible due to the contributions of individuals in each element of the broad continuum of kidney care.
Today, we are recognizing the thousands of nephrology nurses who ensure that individuals with kidney disease and end stage kidney disease (ESKD) receive the care they need to thrive. We spoke with members of the American Nephrology Nurses Association (ANNA) to learn more about their important work and their passion:
David Walz, MBA, BSN, RN, LNHA, CNN, FACHE, ANNA National President
I initially choose the kidney care arena upon finishing nursing school, and immediately liked the combination of nursing and working with the equipment needed for dialysis. The work I do impacts the individuals with ESKD in that I help them when they are at a low point in their lives. I help get them to feel better and to get to a point for transplant. I recall working long hours in acute dialysis, but found that performing emergent dialysis and saving someone’s life was truly satisfying. But it has not always been easy – I vividly recall the three patients that I have lost during my 22 years in dialysis. I love the teamwork and multidisciplinary team; it does take the entire team to heal and educate people with kidney failure. The kidney community brings me to the individuals we serve. I am a part of their lives, three days a week, ensuring that the prescription is correct, monitoring blood pressures, ensuring proper water removal, and above all educating individuals and their family. I always recall when the first patient I was dialyzing received the call from the Transplant Center, notifying her that she was to receive a kidney, the joy and excitement that was incredible. I advocate for dialysis and the people with kidney failure by sending letters, educating lawmakers, and going to Washington DC.
Donna Bednarski, MSN, RN, ANP-BC, CNN, CNP, Nurse Practitioner
I have worked in several arenas of kidney care including acute care, peritoneal dialysis, hemodialysis, and kidney transplant. I believe I have made an impact on the care those with kidney disease in several ways. First, through the direct care I provide. I currently work with individuals preparing to start hemodialysis by ensuring a permanent dialysis access is ready for use. The ability to work with those close to or on dialysis allows me to assist them through a difficult and trying time. Helping them to accept the challenges of chronic illness and focus on living a full, high quality, and satisfying life is extremely rewarding. Second, working with the kidney community to ensure nursing’s voice is heard to ensure high quality care by highly qualified, well-educated nurses. The kidney community works together to achieve many common goals and to speak with one voice for the entire kidney community. I have been active in health policy through ANNA for many years and I am currently ANNA’s KCP Consultant and ANNA’s Health Policy Committee Chair. Through these avenues, ANNA is able to provide support of KCP’s policy priorities for awareness/prevention, patient empowerment, quality and access to quality care, innovation and research. These are challenging times and nurses must stay at the forefront of health policy decisions that impact the care of the individual with kidney disease.
Deborah Degree, BSN, RN, Renal Clinical Educator
When I started in dialysis in 1990, I was told you will ‘either love dialysis or hate it, there was no in-between.’ Over the years, I have found this to be true. Working in dialysis for over the last 30 years has been both challenging and rewarding. My current role, as a clinical educator, has allowed me to focus on patient/caregiver education related to anemia, mineral and bone disease and nutritional health related to albumin. In this role I can interact with all communities related to kidney health and feel this has made me a better person and a true advocate. The nephrology nursing community is like a family to me. We all are working towards the same goals of advocating for our patients, but also ourselves.
Molly Cahill MSN, APRN,BC, CNN,NP-C, FNKF, Nurse Practitioner
My kidney connection started right after high school when I was assigned to a nephrology floor as a newly trained nurse aide in nursing school. I often say my career started by accident, but I stayed on purpose. My passion became kidney disease prevention, education, and awareness. My career has been in all areas of kidney disease practice including inpatient, outpatient, home therapy, transplant, and dialysis. I continued my education, obtaining my master’s degree, became a nurse practitioner, and have worked for the past 17 years in nephrology private practice providing care to individuals with kidney disease in all modalities. Additionally, I have been involved in professional association leadership, including ANNA, and devoted volunteer time to mentoring and advocacy at the local regional and national levels. I have worked to educate members of congress and other elected officials about the needs of individuals with kidney disease. I have pushed for needed changes to policy to improve care, cost, and outcomes. I have been involved for over 40 years and for me it is a passion with my biggest mission is the message of early intervention to prevent progression of disease.