New York, NY (March 29, 2013) –The National Kidney Foundation's Council of Nephrology Social Workers (CNSW) celebrates its 40th anniversary during National Professional Social Work Month and National Kidney Month this March.
For the last four decades, NKF-CNSW has been assisting patients and their families in dealing with the lifestyle readjustments that accompany kidney disease and providing them with ongoing psychosocial assessment and support. Additionally, CNSW works closely with the NKF and federal government to update regulations governing end stage renal disease (ESRD) facilities, including setting standards and qualifications for social work practice.
In 1973, seventy five social workers, chaired by Meg Jamison, met at a Veterans Administration interdisciplinary meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, in conjunction with the American Society of Artificial and Internal Organs. This group was approached by the National Kidney Foundation regarding the formation of a national organization of nephrology social workers that would eventually serve as an advisory council to the Foundation.
"Since the Council's initial formation, CNSW members have provided an invaluable information base for NKF public policy advocacy, helped recruit a multitude of patient advocates and energized volunteers, staff, and fellow CNSW members to address legislative and regulatory challenges," says Dolph Chianchiano, NKF Health Policy Advisor.
Currently, CNSW is comprised of over 800 members and 42 local chapters who develop and promote patient and public education, advocate for the profession, impact regulatory and legislative issues, ensure the use of qualified social workers in the ESRD setting, and provide ongoing support and education to the renal patient, their families, and other social workers.
According to Stephanie Stewart, Council Chair, "CNSW was the first Professional Council created by NKF and I like to think that we encouraged other professionals to follow our model and seek out partnership. By collaborating with fellow nephrology social workers and advocating on behalf of our patients, we have developed many ways to strengthen the renal community." Over the last four decades, the Council's major achievements include:
- Creating the Journal of Nephrology Social Work, a scholarly resource that is used to inform clinical practice, advance policy and advocacy efforts, and enhance patient care;
- Addressing the challenge of providing quality care with growing patient caseloads by establishing recommendations for minimum social worker: patient ratios;
- Creating an assessment tool to determine potential psychosocial barriers to treatment outcomes as a part of the NKF's clinical practice guidelines to improve patient care across the spectrum of chronic kidney disease by incorporating patient-perceived quality of life measurements;
- Promoting recognition of the patient as an active participant in treatment and rehabilitation;
- Creating the Nephrology Social Worker-Certified (NSW-C) credential;
- Developing a training program to orient new nephrology social workers to the field and to enhance their clinical skills;
- Advocating strongly for the extension of Medicare coverage for immunosuppressive medications for transplant recipients;
- Leading the effort to improve health insurance coverage for people with kidney disease;
The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is the leading organization in the U.S. dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease for hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals, millions of patients and their families and tens of millions of Americans at risk. For more information, visit kidney.org.