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Fiona Brouder describes life as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Renal Department at University Hospital Limerick

Fiona Brouder

My name is Fiona Brouder. I began working in the Renal Department at University Hospital Limerick in 2008 as a Staff Nurse in the haemodialysis unit. Currently I am a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Chronic Kidney Disease.

Every day there is so much variety. I’m a contact point for patients with chronic kidney disease, for those who have had or hope to have a kidney transplant, and for Public Health Nurses, GPs, Community Intervention Teams, and pharmacies. I organise and run nurse-led clinics, attend consultant-led nephrology clinics and review patients with advanced chronic kidney disease. I provide education sessions for patients with advanced chronic kidney disease and their families. I also assist with kidney transplant work-ups, I link with patients and transplant co-ordinators in Beaumont Hospital and I collate test results. I arrange admission for renal biopsy, and care for patients immediately after the procedure. I assist with medical reviews.

My favourite part of the day is meeting patients and their families at our clinics. It’s continuous education, as I’m reviewing patients over months and often over years. In some cases, this includes preparing and guiding them through dialysis. Everything comes full circle for those who receive a kidney transplant and return to the nephrology clinic for care. Building relationships is central to what I do, even with those who I’ve never met in person, but know by voice from the phone.

Every day, I work with nursing and medical colleagues in the Renal Department, and in areas such as dietetics and diabetes, as well as renal ward managers and staff in the admissions office and across our hospitals. Even within the Renal Department, what I do requires the support of clerical officers, catering and cleaning attendants, and health care assistant (HCAs).

The most memorable moment in my career was being asked at interview in 2008 if I would like a role in the haemodialysis unit. I hadn’t been exposed to dialysis during training and I was excited at the idea of a new challenge. I worked for a number of years in the haemodialysis unit and completed my diploma in specialist nursing (Renal). This lead to my current role as Clinical Nurse Specialist Chronic Kidney disease.

For young people considering nursing, I would advise them to look for experiences in different nursing settings prior to committing to a career. Nursing has changed so much over the years, and there are many career paths available. Nursing is challenging, yes, but it’s very rewarding, given the contribution you can make to a patient’s experience and that of their families and loved ones.

Underpinning all that, I think the best advice ever given to me was not to lose empathy and compassion for those you are caring for.