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From Nephrology Patient to Nephrology RN

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traumaRUs - Judy has 27 years experience as a MSN, APRN, CNS and specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

15 Followers; 166 Articles; 191,186 Profile Views; 21,041 Posts

National Nephrology Nurses Week

National Nephrology Nurses Week is coming up soon. allnurses.com was fortunate to interview a nephrology nurse who truly understands what it is like to be a dialysis patient.

From Nephrology Patient to Nephrology RN

National Nephrology Nurses week 2019 is September 8-15th. allnurses.com staff was recently able to interview a nurse who knows first-hand what it's like to be a nephrology patient. We interviewed Bridgette Chandler, RN who is a home dialysis nurse. 

1. As the US poises to push forward with an extensive home dialysis initiative, how did you get into this field?

I was diagnosed with ESRD in September 2008. It took me by complete surprise. I had reoccurring kidney infections as a teenager and young adult, but it wasn't until I was 25 and experienced what I thought was a bad case of the flu ( high fever, body aches, and pain, malaise), that I found out my kidneys had failed. I put off dialysis until I had no other choice. I started treatment in the spring of 2009. I had AMAZING nurses. ESRD is a devastating diagnosis, and it can be easy to focus on the word "END". I knew I wanted to be the same kind of light for other patients, that those nurses were for me.  So, when Fresenius had an opening in the home therapy department with the nurses and doctors that made such a difference in my life, I jumped at the chance.

2. How long have you been a nurse?

I had been in the medical field for 6 years when I was diagnosed, but I was an aide. I continued to work PRN or Flex over the next 5 years until I received my transplant in September of 2013. My transplant team asked me to wait 1-year post-transplant to ensure there were no complications prior to applying to nursing school. I was accepted in the Fall of 2014 and received my RN in 2016. I have been a Registered Nurse for almost 3 years.

3. What do you tell patients to encourage them to choose a home dialysis modality?

Many patients are in the same situation I found myself in, I had no control over my kidney failure. As I found out later, I had a hereditary condition that caused reoccurring infections. This ultimately led to my kidney failure.  Home therapy gave me the opportunity to take back something I lost. I was able to perform treatment at home with my husband and small children. I was able to make myself feel better. it was nice to have some control back. I'm very honest with my patients though. I will never tell them home therapy is easy, but it is worth it.

4. Do you share your story with your patients?

Each patient is unique. Many of them have already heard about me from other patients who remember me. If they ask, I'm honest about it. I typically base it on the individual. Some people need to know that I really do understand what they're going through, others just need a warm smile and the assurance that I'll help them through.

5. Did you receive a kidney from a deceased donor or a living kidney donor?

I had an altruistic living donor. A woman who was a complete stranger in a neighboring state found me through Facebook. I had been on the transplant list for almost 5 years when we started the Facebook page. She contacted me in February of 2013 stating that she was interested in learning more about being a living donor. This amazing lady, Megan, contacted my transplant center and the rest is history!

6. What would you say to patients contemplating a transplant?

Absolutely pursue it! I am a Donate Life Ambassador, and absolutely encourage everyone to be an organ donor. Even if patients feel they are "too old" or "not well enough", I encourage them to let the physician decide. I would never want anyone to miss out on a possible transplant. I hope I am merely a stepping stone for patients on their way to a transplant.

7. Any closing words?

As a nurse, we're often so busy trying to keep up with patients, deadlines, paperwork, medications, staff meetings, orders, and more, that we forget these are people who look to us. Often they need more than just care, they need your smile. They look to you, even when you don't realize they're watching. It can be easy to focus on the patient who maybe doesn't seem to appreciate you, but I promise, there are patients who look to you and admire your caring heart and your amazing ability to be the face of calm in a moment of chaos. I know that because I have been on both sides. 

Thank you Bridgette so very much for sharing your story and insight into being a patient as well as a nephrology nurse. 

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Bridgette Chandler with her home therapy nurse on the night of her nurse pinning.  Image provided by Fresenius Kidney Care

Happy Nephrology Nurses Week!

Welcome to allnurses.com. I'm the Asst Community Manager. Please let me know what I can do to make your experience more enjoyable.

15 Followers; 166 Articles; 191,186 Profile Views; 21,041 Posts

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I've never worked with transplant patients so it's great to read your story. 

Would love to hear more about your immediate post op recovery. How taking anti rejection drugs affects you, etc.

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237 Posts; 961 Profile Views

This is a great story/article. 

TraumaRUs, I PMed you as I have something to ask you.  I hope you don't mind.

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traumaRUs - Judy has 27 years experience as a MSN, APRN, CNS and specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

15 Followers; 166 Articles; 21,041 Posts; 191,186 Profile Views

I have asked Bridgette to come here to answer questions.  She has a very interesting and inspirational story. 

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237 Posts; 961 Profile Views

Thank you traumaRUs!!!

Bridgette, 

As a fellow transplant patient, I was very inspired to hear your story.  I am currently applying to nursing programs.  It makes me relieved to hear that you were accepted into a nursing program, as I thought that this might be a deal-breaker in trying to get into any program. 

I would like to know if the fact that you were a transplant patient ever came up before being accepted into nursing school?  For example, filling out the medical  history papers prior to enrolling.  Is there some type of question on there that asks about operations or if you're immunocompromised?   The reason I ask is, because I have come across this question about being immunocompromised when I volunteered at a hospital, so I know it can be asked.  If it is, did you admit it?   I know we should be honest when filling out all paperwork, but there are some posts on A.N. where some opinions are that some of your history is better left unsaid.

It just seems transplant/immunosuppression feels like it is a red-flag to people that one will be incapable of performing a healthcare job.  I totally disagree w/ this train of thought, but it sometimes seems this is the way some people think.  Have you ever encountered the trepidation of admitting or hiring a transplantee during either your schooling or when applying to a job?

You don't know how happy it makes me to find out there's another transplant recipient out there that's already nursing!  Thank you for doing this interview!!  I really appreciate reading about these topics!

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BChandler specializes in Nephrology.

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I was always very honest with both my school of nursing and my physicians. I did have one professor who was very harsh with me and told me I should have chosen a different profession, a happen to have a check up with my transplant surgeon just a few days after. So, with tears running down my face, I asked, " Should I not be a nurse??" He smiled at me and asked if if washed my hands, I said yes... he said do you use your PPE.... I replied yes.... and he told me that as a transplant recipient, the majority of us are just more aware. We are more cautious, and as long as we stay that way, we have just as much right as anyone else to follow our dreams. My surgeon even called the professor. I never had another problem. 

Having said all that, prior to joining Fresenius, I worked with post surgery patients, med surg patient, and even floated the ED. I always wash my hands, I always wear my PPE, and have never had an issue.

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tnbutterfly - Mary is a BSN, RN and specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

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Bridgette, thanks so much for telling your story and then coming to the site to respond to questions!

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237 Posts; 961 Profile Views

4 hours ago, BChandler said:

I was always very honest with both my school of nursing and my physicians. I did have one professor who was very harsh with me and told me I should have chosen a different profession, a happen to have a check up with my transplant surgeon just a few days after. So, with tears running down my face, I asked, " Should I not be a nurse??" He smiled at me and asked if if washed my hands, I said yes... he said do you use your PPE.... I replied yes.... and he told me that as a transplant recipient, the majority of us are just more aware. We are more cautious, and as long as we stay that way, we have just as much right as anyone else to follow our dreams. My surgeon even called the professor. I never had another problem. 

Having said all that, prior to joining Fresenius, I worked with post surgery patients, med surg patient, and even floated the ED. I always wash my hands, I always wear my PPE, and have never had an issue.

What you mentioned is what I'm afraid of -- the whole "Why are you here you're immunocompromised, blah, blah, blah."  Yes, it's true we are more aware and cautious of washing our hands and surrounding areas.  Even after I use the restroom, I still wash my hands as I did when I did PD treatments at home.  The funny thing is, in the 3 years I've had my transplant, I've only gotten sick once and it was a cold that lasted 3 days.  Nothing after that.  Imagine that.  I'm healthier than most of my family when it comes to flu and cold season because I am very cautious.   

It was fantastic to hear your story.  I really was searching and hoping to read about somebody like you, a transplant recipient, who is working as a nurse.  This gives me a lot of motivation to pursue my goal.  Thank you for doing this interview and thank you to traumaRUs for doing the interview.  You both are fantastic!

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traumaRUs - Judy has 27 years experience as a MSN, APRN, CNS and specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

15 Followers; 166 Articles; 21,041 Posts; 191,186 Profile Views

A very good friend of mine was a renal transplant recipient and she worked ED in a very busy level one trauma center. 

Now as a nephrology APRN, transplant recipients can pretty much work where they want to - as Bridgette stated, its always going to be a matter of common sense: wash your hands, wear PPE, etc..

I will add that in the ED you can encounter illness that might put a transplant recipient at risk simply because you don't know the history of the pt prior to seeing them....my only caveat. 

Thanks again Bridgette for telling your story!

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