LAS VEGAS – Stephanie Johnstone, lead social worker at Fresenius Medical Care North America West Division, has received the annual Robert W. Whitlock Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Kidney Foundation’s Council of Nephrology Social Workers.

Johnstone, who is based in San Diego, received the award on April 23 at the Spring Clinical Meetings here in Las Vegas. The award recognizes the profound impact that Johnstone has had on the field of nephrology social work through programs, publications and teachings, and mentoring colleagues.

During her more than three decades at FMCNA, she has developed numerous innovative programs designed to improve care for kidney patients. She has also inspired and mentored her colleagues to advance the field of nephrology social work toward disease management.

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“Throughout her career, Stephanie has displayed that rare combination of exceptional skill in engaging with both patients and colleagues, and a visionary thinking style,” said Carolyn Latham, FMCNA’s corporate vice president of clinical services. “With our Social Work Intensive program, she empowered nephrology social workers to use their clinical skills and training to improve patients’ quality of life, while also helping her peers achieve their professional potential and increase their career satisfaction.”

This is the second major award for Johnstone in two years. In 2013, Modern Healthcare magazine honored her and FMCNA with itsSpirit of Excellence” award for launching a company-wide initiative to reduce the number of patients who miss or shorten their dialysis treatments. The program significantly improved adherence to prescribed dialysis treatments by having social workers intervene with struggling patients to address their depression and other quality-of-life issues.

“I am both honored and humbled to receive the Robert W. Whitlock Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Johnstone. “Obviously, it takes a dedicated team to continuously and steadily improve the quality of life of those with kidney disease, and I owe much of my success to the commitment and hard work of so many of my colleagues.”

In addition to her work at FMCNA, Johnstone has been a research consultant on nephrology studies evaluating strategies for treating depression and improving quality of life for dialysis patients. She also designed an NKF intervention campaign to enhance dialysis adherence, which was released nationally as “Living Longer, Living Better.”

Johnstone has been active with the NKF’s Council of Nephrology Social Workers by serving on the editorial board of the Journal of Nephrology Social Work, and as chair of the San Diego CNSW chapter. She is the co-developer of the CNSW’s Outcomes Training Program, and has twice been honored nationally by the council for outstanding achievements. She also has published studies in numerous professional journals and presented nationally on topics such as depression, conflict management and improving adherence to treatment and quality of life. Johnstone has been published in Nephrology News & Issues, and authored an article in NN&I's upcoming May 2014 issue.