The skill and compassion that nephrology nurses practice with their patients, sometimes stems from overcoming difficult circumstances in their own lives, whether it’s living with chronic kidney disease or escaping homelessness.
This Nephrology Nurses Week, two nurses with Fresenius Kidney Care reflected on their personal journeys and how overcoming challenges has influenced their nursing careers.
Spend time with Texas nephrology nurse Maureen Moore and you would never know that she was the one receiving dialysis treatment just a few years ago. At age 25, Maureen learned that she had kidney failure – right around the same time her husband was deployed to Afghanistan. Maureen began receiving dialysis for four hours at a time, three times a week. She has since received a transplant and no longer needs dialysis. Still, inspired by the care she received while on dialysis, Maureen switched careers to become a dialysis nurse.
“For me and my patients it’s amazing because I can actually relate with sitting with them in the chair,” Maureen told her local newspaper, the Killeen Daily Herald. “I can go to them and tell them ‘You know what, I know what this is like’.”
Last month, Maureen celebrated her fifth anniversary with Fresenius Kidney Care at a center in Killeen, Texas. Like the nurses who became her family many years ago, Maureen offers positivity and support to her patients and encourages them to be involved in decisions around their care.
“I try to give them some tricks but sometimes I just sit with them when they have bad days and try to brighten it up, try to get them positive with hope,” Maureen said. “When they are more involved with their care and know what’s going on, they look at things at a brighter side and are happier and healthier.”
When South Carolina nephrology nurse Jennifer Cole was homeless – spending a winter living in her 2006 Hyundai Accent – she found comfort listening to the car’s staticky radio, which would broadcast nightly programs about overcoming obstacles, such as substance use disorder and chronic illness. Listening to other people’s stories made Jennifer realize she could still turn her own life around. She picked herself up, found a roommate and enrolled in nursing school, later becoming a nephrology nurse.
It was that roommate, now her husband, who inspired her to find her passion. “He was living a stable life and going back to college and I thought, ‘I can do this too.’” she said. Not only did Jennifer find the strength to save herself, she also discovered a commitment to serving others.
Jennifer is now a Clinical Manager at a Fresenius Kidney Care clinic in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
“I’m in a great place, very happy with my personal life, career and Fresenius Medical Care,” she said. “I’m so grateful to be alive and to have overcome so many things.”
Jennifer finds joy in her work and strives to share it with others by singing, dancing and telling jokes to make her patients smile, volunteering at other clinics and mentoring other clinical managers. She is grateful for her journey and wants others who are struggling to know that their story isn’t over either.
“You just never know what someone’s going through in their mind,” Jennifer said. “My experience has shaped me as a nurse and a person. I have so much more patience and care about everything with my patients – Are you comfortable? Are you warm enough? How’s your family? When you don’t have running water to take a shower, like I did that winter, you take nothing for granted and you appreciate everything.”