Wanted to be a nurse since I was a child

Lúcia Pedro has been working as a nurse for 26 years. She worked 20 years in the Portuguese National Health Service and 2 years in the English National Health Service. Since 4 years Lucia is working in the NephroCare center of Abrantes, Portugal.

Can you briefly introduce yourself?
My name is Lúcia Pedro, I’m 47 years old. I live in Entroncamento, known as the “city of trains” and work in Abrantes, a city that is 30 km from where I live. I have been married for 20 years, I’m a mother of a 19-year-old son and a 17-year-old daughter. With a great sense of humor, easy smile, always available to help others and very stubborn.

What do you do when you don’t work? Do you have special hobbies?
When I'm not working, I mostly do housework, housekeeping, shopping, support my children with their schoolwork and take care of my 3 dogs. Nowadays my main hobbies are reading and spending quality time with family and friends. I would like to have more time to be able to travel, which is what I like to do the most. Knowing other cultures is a dream of mine. My therapy are my dogs! As stressful as a day may be, being with them gives me peace of mind.

How does a normal day in your life look like?
My days are always very intense, I spend my life rushing. There is never enough time to do everything I want and need! I usually get up at 6 or 7 AM , take my daughter to school and extracurricular activities, shopping, cooking meals, tidying up the house, working. Often if I work on the afternoon shift, I do not get home until midnight. These are very busy and tiresome days, but I usually lie down with a feeling of personal fulfilment. My days are not much different from working mothers of today.

When did you know that you wanted to become a nurse?
I remember wanting to be a nurse since I was a child, since I was seven years old. It has always been a dream. Later, around 16 years old, it became a certainty. And at 18 I went to the Nursing School. I don't know why, I didn't have anyone to influence me to choose nursing, but it was always a very clear choice.

What was your motivation/ the most convincing aspect for you to become a renal nurse?
Throughout my professional life I worked in different areas such as orthopaedics, surgery, dermatology, paediatrics, emergency wards. The passion for becoming a renal nurseis based on the fact that it’s an area where technical skills and relational skills are always deeply linked and require a constant evolution, dedication, training and updating from nurses. Although this is also a requirement in most areas. In dialysis, the fact that the group of patients receiving care is mostly the same every session allows the construction of effective therapeutic relationships. That is my biggest motivation.

What is the most important value/ quality a renal nurse should have?
I believe that a renal nurse should have good assessment skills, technical skills, therapeutic communication, collaborative skills, documentation skills, good attention to detail and leadership qualities. Mostly a renal nurse should have very good skills involving teamwork. I believe that teamwork it’s the most important.

How would you describe your relationship with your patients? 
I have always had a good relationship with my patients. In general, I think my patients look at me as an experienced and reliable nurse. Every day I try to share a smile, and words of encouragement. I always try to demonstrate my willingness to help, and patients notice that. I love “my patients”. In 2009 I completed the post-graduation as a Mental Health Nurse which brought me extra skills and allow me to improve the relationship with patients, with colleagues and in the team building area.

Do you remember one story of a patient which makes you particularly proud to be a nurse?
In 26 years of work as a nurse there are many stories that have shaped me, but there is one in particular that often comes to my mind. He was a patient in his early fifties and a former high-performance athlete who owned a company. He was waiting for a kidney transplant. His sister wanted to donate. Yet, he could not proceed with the transplant due to being overweight. He refused dietitian and psychological help and at a certain point he started to be apathetic, sometimes with an aggressive and less communicative speech. After several attempts on my behalf over several weeks trying to know what was going on, I realized that the patient had a structured suicidal ideation. After having a serious talk with the family, the patient accepted specialized help and was transplanted within one year. It was a happy ending and I felt like a very proud nurse.

Is there something you wish more patients knew or would pay more attention to?
Despite the access to information, there are still great room for improvement for the patients to comply with correct diet, as well as fluid intake. I think there is still a long way to go, where the nurses have a very important role.

How would you describe the atmosphere with your colleagues?
I am a person with a good sense of humour, cheerful, easy smile, facilitator, helpful, but very perfectionist and demanding, with me and with others. Whoever works with me knows this. The working atmosphere is good, colleagues recognize me as an experienced, available and reliable colleague. I try to motivate them daily to work as a team to reach even higher quality standards together.

How does a day in the clinic look like for you as a team?
I usually say that nobody works well alone. We are part of a whole and we are the product of the team we integrate in. The team at Nephrocare in Abrantes is unique. People know each other very well, in many cases, for many years. At the end of the day,it is a true team in which everyone worked together to develop work processes, according to the recommended quality.