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'They treat you like you are family': Allan Borja's story

May 6, 2022 is National Nurses Day and kicks off the start of National Nurses Week. The value and impact that nurses bring to the kidney community is profound. That is why Northwest Kidney Council and our partners support efforts to improve the credentialing process and ensure patients receive the specialized care they require to live. 


To celebrate National Nurses Day, Northwest Kidney Council took a moment to sit down and chat with a few of these amazing nurses. Keep reading for our conversation with Allan Borja, a dialysis nurse covering Raines and Astoria with a focus on anemia management.



Northwest Kidney Council: How did you get into nursing?


Allan Borja: My sister was the nurse in the family, and she has been my role model. She took care of me and, when she became a nurse, that motivated me to make nursing my ambition.


NWKC: What is your favorite part about being a nurse?


Allan: In the dialysis field, my favorite part is seeing patients getting better every day or every week. When I worked in the Hillsboro clinic, there was this elderly patient. Probably in his 70s. When he was first admitted, he had been hospitalized for a long time and couldn't move at all. He had to be hoyer-lifted to transfer from his wheelchair to the treatment chair. Three months later, he was walking. Those developments are definitely my favorite, seeing my patients getting better. You wouldn't think that was the same person I admitted three months ago. It's just an amazing feeling.


You've have to remember, in dialysis, you're seeing the same patients every week. It's the same set of patients, so you get to know them well. Some of them, they treat you like you are family because they see you much. Some of them say, "I don't even see my son as much as I see you."


That is something that I think is really great about this profession.


NWKC: What is one thing that you wish more people knew about being a nurse? It could be about the kidney community, the dialysis community, or just the nursing profession, but what's something you wish more people understood?


Allan: Well, I wish they understood that being a nurse entails a lot of sacrifice. I'll give you an example: Right now, all clinics, and probably all hospitals, are so short of nurses. That means there are times when a clinic cannot open unless there is a nurse. I get that call all the time.


You say yes, not because you want the money, or the overtime, or anything, but just because you want to help people.


It takes a lot of sacrifice, and I wish that all people knew that. Most nurses are doing it not for the money but just because we care for our patients; we want to help people.


NWKC: Could you walk me through a regular day at your job?


Allan: We start early. You wake up with your alarm clock at 3:30 in the morning, because you have to be in your clinic at 4:45 in the morning. We start early. That way we can dialyze more patients in one day. We open the clinic at 5:00 in the morning.


You assess 12 patients, making sure they're OK to dialyze that day. After assessing these 12 patients, you document everything, and then after that, you start giving medications. Then after that, you do some of your chores like checking their home medications, doing diet checks for diabetic patients, and then case management. Lots of case management.


This set of patients will be done around 9:00 to 10:00 AM. Then another set of 12 patients will come in and do the same thing basically.


And in between, there are emergencies.


Patients pass out, their blood pressure is so low, you must contact the doctor. It's a nonstop panic job. Then on top of that, it's the case management stuff that will eat up a lot of your time, and then some of the ancillary jobs like those medication checks, making sure they have their home medications filled up from the pharmacy if they need one.


On a single day, I will see at least about 24 patients. Twice a week, I must do anemia management for my patients. That entails about two to three hours per clinic per week. And right now, in my case, I'm taking care of two clinics.


I'm being the staff nurse, and at the same time, the charge nurse, and the anemia manager.  


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Northwest Kidney Council would like to thank all the nurses who work every day on behalf of the kidney community. To learn more about our efforts to support the kidney community and to get involved, please visit nwkidneycouncil.org/advocacy.