ANAHEIM––It’s time to get re-energized over nephrology, says self-acknowledged “old guard” nurse Gail Wick. That includes getting through the bureaucratic haze of government regulation and required performance standards to what really counts: patient care.

Wick gave the opening address at the 45th annual American Nephrology Nurses Association meeting here this week. A former ANNA president, she make it clear in her talk, "Nephrology nursing: Highlighting the past, positioning for the future," that many of the milestones that ANNA has accomplished over the years, such as nursing certification and developing practice guidelines, were important for improving care.

“We need to celebrate our accomplishments over the next few days. Then we need to take a reality check,” she said, that includes confronting the different attitudes about how health care is provided, a slowdown in technological advances, and changes in leadership as older nurses retire and move on. “We need to come up with a viable, economical, feasible solutions to issues in various practice settings,” she said.

There is a new era of health care delivery, said Wick, placing nursing in “uncharted waters filled with threats.  But I believe it presents us with wonderful opportunities if we are proactive in dealing with those threats.” They  include changes to staffing models and higher patient-nurse ratios as providers try and control costs. There will be an increase in external demands for data and for verifying outside definitions of “quality” care. There will be more demands and fewer bedside resources.

All this will put a great strain on the nursing environment, said Wick. Nurses “get so busy being busy we forget about what we are busy about, and that is taking care of human beings.

 “We have a rich history. We have come a long way…you have helped to create our legacy,” Wick told the audience in closing.  "But we need to leave here and be very calculating and analytical about what has gotten us to where we are today and use that as a foundation to move forward.

“We need to bring that passion back. I believe we can do it. We need to get re-energized…I want to challenge the young nurses to take over and do a better job in the next 45 years then we did in the first 45.”