This week we are celebrating Nurse Practitioner Week by acknowledging the wonderful work of our Nurse Practitioners.
Meet Annette Bezzant and Kerry Linton: Nephrology Nurse Practitioners
1. What was your journey to becoming a Nurse Practitioner?
We both had many years of advanced practice as nephrology nurses with Annette working primarily in Haemodialysis and Kerry working in Haemodialysis, Home Haemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis. We completed specialist post graduate renal nursing qualifications in the early 2000’s and then Master of Nursing (Nurse Practitioner) in 2010, and went on to positions as Nurse Practitioner candidates in the Department of Nephrology. Extensive additional education was provided by our clinical mentors and we were endorsed as Nurse Practitioners in 2011/12 after submitting a portfolio of evidence of advanced practice to AHPRA and satisfying our medical and nursing leads of clinical competence. We have both completed further study since completing the masters degrees- Annette in Diabetes and Kerry in Palliative Care.
2. Tell us about a normal day at work for you?
A normal day at work is never the same. People living with chronic kidney disease, especially those receiving haemodialysis have frequent and ongoing medical care needs throughout their entire lifetime. Our job is to help make their journey just a little bit easier.
On any given day you might find us in one of the many renal clinics or dialysis units across the service. We support a multidisciplinary team to provide clinical reviews for patients and facilitate complex discussions for patients and their families who are facing life changing treatment decisions. We oversee clinical care for people receiving maintenance haemodialysis. We identify and implement programs to improve care pathways and we mentor other renal nursing students.
3. What has been a highlight in your career?
Kerry: I have had a long interest in quality of life of people with end stage chronic disease and have always been a strong advocate for the right of people to determine their own pathway as they interact with the healthcare system. I am now involved in the care of people who choose to not have dialysis or dialysis patients who are suffering greatly from the burden of chronic disease. I have been able to improve their care by my involvement in creating the Supportive Chronic Conditions Clinic, a joint venture with Nephrology, Palliative Care and Complex Care.
Annette: Identifying and case managing an unplanned pregnancy for a woman with advanced disease. Pregnancy is rare for women with advanced kidney disease. I am incredibly lucky to have been able to support the patient from initial diagnosis, during and throughout the transition to an intensive dialysis schedule and ultimately to a successful live birth.
4. What do you love about your role?
Our role includes providing a significant amount of education to people with advanced kidney disease in order to assist them with their treatment choices. We have the reward of enabling people to make positive and informed choices about their healthcare and helping them navigate the healthcare system. Our patients tell us that we make a positive difference to them at a very difficult time. We continue to learn from them and our colleagues every day and are grateful for that opportunity.
5. What are the main challenges you have encountered along the way?
Study- lots of it, endlessly interesting and engaging but it takes its toll on family life, and constantly being told we are pioneers. We are the first to do so many things that previously have not been part of nursing roles and there have been many hurdles (mountain ranges) along the way. Fortunately the pathway to becoming a NP is considerably smoother for the next generation of nurses.
6. If you weren’t working in your current role what would you be doing?
Kerry: Something creative – I might be running a quilt shop that sells good coffee and cakes or in another life I might be a professional musician.
Annette: Walking along the beach with my two Golden Retrievers, or planning my next holiday adventure.