A nurse practitioner at GW received a national award this month considered the highest honor for kidney health care professionals.
The American Association of Kidney Patients announced Feb. 8 that Nancy Uhland, a nurse practitioner in the renal division of the Medical Faculty Associates, received its 2018 Medal of Excellence Award in the nursing category for her specialized treatment of patients with kidney diseases. Uhland said the award was a pleasant surprise that reaffirmed her mission to give kidney patients more of a voice in their medical care.
The award honors “professionals committed to improving the lives of patients through research, technology and quality-driven treatments,” AAKP President Paul Conway said in a statement.
AAKP is the largest kidney advocacy organization in the United States and aims to create a community for patients living with kidney disease and their families. The annual award recognizes kidney health care professionals from various fields who are committed to improving patients’ lives and is the most prestigious honor for kidney healthcare professionals, according to a release from Business Insider.
Uhland said she has worked closely with kidney patients and their caregivers for more than 20 years, including patients on dialysis who are in need of more specialized care. She said it takes a multifaceted team of nephrologists – doctors who focus on kidney disease – as well as social workers, dietitians and administrative assistants to look after patients.
“D.C. has the highest rate of kidney disease in the country,” Uhland said. “We’re super proud to have kidney transplants on the GW campus.”
In D.C., 2.7 percent of the population is affected by kidney disease. In 2015, GW launched The Ron & Joy Paul Kidney Center to bolster the University’s kidney research efforts and work toward providing patients with transplant opportunities with a $2.5 million grant.
Uhland said her goal is to provide direct patient care and empower patients to be their own advocates. She said her passion for kidney health started as early as 1997, when she received her master’s degree and family practitioner degree at Georgetown University. After finishing her education, she was able to get a job as a kidney transplant coordinator at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Virginia.
“Advancing my career was fully based on how I could have an even bigger voice for patient care,” she said. “Direct patient care is key.”
Uhland said it’s important to make sure that a patient is informed about their care and treatment strategies because they can help slow the progression of their disease.
Because kidney transplants are difficult to get and patients often face long waitlists, Uhland said those patients are ideally given extra care. She said she encourages patients to take additional measures to take care of their kidneys.
Uhland said she wants to continue working on direct patient care and promote the fact that patients facing kidney diseases have specific needs that should be addressed within the medical community.
“Health care access is a hot topic right now,” she said. “To make sure we continue that in this city is a huge part of what I plan to do.”
Recipients of the award will be recognized at a dinner next month in conjunction with the Renal Physician Association Annual Meeting in Florida.
Fred Robinson, a registered nurse at GW Hospital and one of Uhland’s colleagues, said Uhland is a “natural advocate” for her patients.
“One thing I saw with Nancy was her passion for advocacy,” Robinson said. “It’s a gift I identified in her a long time ago. She has a passion to serve the unserved community, the less fortunate who have medical needs.”