Speakers detail ways to build physical and mental resilience in dialysis staff


March 14, 2022

2 minute read



Williams J, et al. Caring for the Caregiver: Effective Strategies for Recruiting and Retaining Dialysis Staff – Joint Session with Renal Health Care Association. Presented at: Annual Dialysis Conference; March 4-7, 2022 (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Williams, Pfaff and Regnier report no relevant financial information.

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Daily exercise is the first step to building the physical and mental resilience of dialysis staff, according to a speaker at the annual virtual dialysis conference.

“Sometimes we focus so much on the clinical aspects of our work that we forget that it’s a very physical job. There are little things you can do to keep your flexibility and strength.” Julie Williams, BSA, a dialysis administrator at Branson Dialysis, Heartland Kidney Centers and Harrison Dialysis in Missouri, said in the presentation. “We’ve all had a tough year and we have to figure out how to be mentally strong.”

Infographic showing a quote from Julie Williams, BSA

Julie Williams, BSA, a dialysis administrator at Branson Dialysis, Heartland Kidney Centers, and Harrison Dialysis in Missouri.

Working in the dialysis center can have physical implications for staff, whether it makes a staff member stronger or weaker. Williams listed small ways to build strength throughout a work day, such as taking time to stretch before work. Likewise, meditation or functional fitness can take less than 10 minutes a day and have a significant positive impact on physical resilience.

Physical resilience is needed to complete the physical aspects of a job, such as lifting boxes of supplies, catching patients when they fall, or simply standing all day, Williams said.

Dialysis staff constantly work with physically weakened patients, and the emotional implications of the job can make it difficult to sustain, even without the burden of stress that the COVID-19 pandemic has added.

Brigitte PfaffMRS,

“As a result of the pandemic, many nephrologists have constant access to professional or online data and therefore there may no longer be strict working hours,” Brigitte PfaffMRS, director of clinical operations at Gundersen Health System in Wisconsin, said in the joint submission. “Building boundaries with work is important. If nephrologists or staff feel the need to turn on their computers at 3 a.m., we need to ask ourselves, “What can we do as a center so that you don’t feel this?” »

Marie Regnier

“Encouraging staff to call employee assistance programs is also important,” Maria Regnier, MS, RN, the senior director of Enterprise Dialysis, said in the presentation. “Giving staff the chance to talk to someone to help build their mental resilience relieves both managers and staff. Employee assistance programs should be part of a support system, not just an outside tool.

Taking the time to recognize the stress dialysis staff members may be experiencing can help build resilience, Williams said. Organizing group activities that focus on exercise or socializing can build staff resilience.

“Without funding, dialysis centers can’t do much except do our best to make our staff feel valued,” Williams concluded.


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