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Working with Your Nephrologist

Developing a warm, trusting and collaborative relationship with your kidney doctor—or nephrologist—is an important step in managing your disease. Your nephrologist is your partner and guide, along with your family and friends, to understanding what life is like for someone with kidney disease, and how best to adapt to treatments and medications while maintaining the quality of life you deserve.

A word from Dr. Allen R. Nissenson, MD, FACP, and chief medical officer of DaVita®

Having serious kidney disease is a significant transition both for you and for your family, but your kidney disease doesn’t have to become your life. You and your nephrologist will need to think about how to:

  • Balance your home life with your treatments
  • Ensure you understand all of your medicines and are able to afford to buy them, as well as take them as prescribed
  • Continue working despite having a treatment schedule that might interfere with your job
  • Maintain a positive attitude about your life and your future

Yes, these are important challenges, but my advice to my patients is to face them head-on, to discuss them openly with their nephrologist and their family, and to take advantage of available resources such as social workers and other patients. When you make an appointment with your doctor, make a list before going to the office of all the questions and concerns you have, and make sure you cover all of them during the visit.

One of the greatest joys of my career has been working with kidney patients and their families as they approach the need for a transplant or dialysis, and watching them realize that they can have full, satisfying and productive lives despite being ill. It is clear that the more involved they are in their care, the better their quality of life, no matter what the kidney disease throws their way. Their courage—and yours—is an inspiration to me.

Dr. Nissenson’s Top 5 Questions to Ask a Nephrologist

  1. How can I lead a “normal” life when I go on dialysis?
  2. How can I keep working?
  3. What will my quality of life be?
  4. What resources are available to help manage my health?
  5. How important is it for me to manage my medications and kidney diet?

Dr. Nissenson has been a leader and powerful advocate for the advancement of kidney care in the United States for more than 30 years. His dedication to improving both clinical outcomes and quality of life for patients with CKD and ESRD has resulted in a number of innovations that have benefited thousands—and raised the industry standard for care.

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