Sharon Longton, BSN, RN, CNN, CCTC, of Southgate, Mich. has been elected national president-elect of the American Nephrology Nurses’ Association (ANNA) for 2013-14. Renal Business Today connected with Longton for a brief introductory Q&A session to allow our readers a glimpse into ANNA's future.
RBT: How did you choose to get involved in the renal community?
Longton: I started my nursing career in my 20s as a medical-surgical nurse and began working with renal patients during that time. The level of complexity of their health care needs and manner in how these incredibly brave individuals faced the multitude of daily challenges they encountered inspired me to focus my nursing career on the care of nephrology patients. I have found that one of the best parts of working in nephrology nursing is how well you get to know your patients. Since they require life-long care, I have been able to get to know my patients as individuals and get to know their heart. How extraordinarily amazing is that?! Shortly after beginning this journey, I knew that I wanted to take my career and commitment to the next level. I learned about ANNA through a colleague of mine and readily joined the organization. I found the other members to be so welcoming and supportive, and with a level of camaraderie that I had not found elsewhere. It didn’t take me too long before I began volunteering to help my local chapter and was soon elected to a chapter officer position, eventually advancing into other leadership positions. The level of personal and professional satisfaction that I have gained from ANNA is indescribable and has benefitted me beyond my expectations. Being an ANNA leader is one small way for me to thank ANNA for all that I have gained as well as being able to help other nurses succeed and achieve their goals.
RBT: What do you find most interesting in this field?
Longton: Individuals with renal disease and failure face many unique challenges that other patient populations do not have to cope with. The combined physical and psychological issues that they must deal with not only have given me the professional stimulation that I desire but have also consistently touched my heart. Every day I see the fortitude that my patients have and am astounded by their perseverance. And I am especially lucky to have the privilege to see the joy and light in their eyes—and their families—if they are fortunate enough to receive a kidney transplant. Such a truly incredible gift!
RBT: How were you chosen to be the president-elect for ANNA?
Longton: The president-elect is selected through an annual national election in December.
RBT: How long will you hold the position of the president-elect?
Longton: The president-elect holds office for one year then assumes the role of president at ANNA’s annual National Symposium that is held each spring.
RBT: What will your role be as the president-elect and what are some goals that you would like to reach while in this position?
Longton: As president-elect I will serve on the national board of directors, serve as liaison to various committees and representatives, and uphold and support the overall functions and objectives of ANNA.
During our annual election this past December ANNA’s membership voted to approve a change in our governance structure from being regionally based to being one that is nationally based. In addition, the board of directors recently made significant changes to our Strategic Plan. As such, one of my primary goals will be to help facilitate and support a smooth transition for our chapters and members with these changes. We are extremely excited and passionate about these changes and look forward to leading our membership through this journey.
RBT: What do you think is a concerning issue in the kidney and dialysis world that should be addressed and examined further?
Longton: The nephrology arena continues to face many issues related to regulatory requirements, decreases in reimbursement and public education. These issues pose significant burdens in the areas of early access to care, prevention or delay of kidney disease progression, medication costs, patient workload, and general public knowledge of renal disease prevention and treatment.
RBT: You are a busy individual in the renal community, what are some activities that you do to take your mind off of work?
Longton: Anybody who knows me knows how much I love to dance! Although I enjoy many varieties of music, my favorite kind is rock and roll with some alternative and hip hop thrown into the mix. I also get a great deal of pleasure and relaxation when I’m able to ride my bike down the trails that are alongside beautiful Lake Michigan or am able to read a good mystery!