World Kidney Day 2023

World Kidney Day is a global campaign that aims to raise awareness of kidney disease and the importance of kidney health. It also provides an opportunity to recognise the work that many of our teams do every today to train and educate healthcare professionals and patients.

Meet Fiona Tobin, our Senior Renal Therapies Specialist based in Ireland.

Q: Can you tell us about your background and how you came to work in nephrology nursing?

Fiona: Believe it or not, nursing was not my first choice. When I finished school, I started to study languages and tourism and after a few months I decided it was not for me. Nursing had just become a degree course, so I applied and the following year I started a 4-year course in general nursing at Waterford Institute of Technology and I qualified in 2006.

My first job as a qualified nurse was on the medical renal ward at Waterford University Hospital. I had spent time on this ward as part of my training and I loved it, so I was very happy to be placed here as a nurse.  General duties included caring for renal inpatients both peritoneal dialysis (PD) and haemodialysis (HD). We also covered for the home therapies unit out of hours. After 2 years working there, an opening became available in the haemodialysis unit and so I moved to a new role as a haemodialysis nurse. I have worked in the area of renal ever since!

Q: As a Renal Therapies Specialist, what does your role involve day-to-day?

Fiona: I support our hospitals in the south of Ireland by providing education and support to nurses and doctors on our products and services. It is a busy but rewarding role and I am in a different hospital every day.  I deliver education and training to new nurses when they join the renal teams, be it PD or HD. I also support the existing nursing and medical teams with refresher education sessions and sharing best practice. It is very important to me to be seen as a reliable source of support to our hospitals.

Q: You are clearly very passionate about what you do. What inspires your interest in training and does it require any special skills?

Fiona: I love being involved in delivering education and interacting with people. In my role communication is so important and it helps if you are a people person. You also need to be very patient as everyone learns at different paces, some may require more time than others. I try to create an environment where people feel comfortable to ask questions, no matter how silly they might seem.

Q: What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

Fiona: I get a great sense of achievement and satisfaction out of the relationships I have built with my customers. They see me as a reliable partner and that comes from years of working closely together and getting to know and understand each other. To be seen as part of their team and to be working with them to achieve the same goals is pretty special. The collaboration we have means so much to me.

Everything we do is for the patient at the end of day, and I never lose sight of that. I want patients to receive the best possible care so if I can share materials and information to help that happen, well that’s a job well done.