ANNA Member Spotlight

Welcome to ANNA's monthly member spotlight. ANNA is a vibrant organization because of nurses like you! Your diverse experiences and unique perspectives make us a collective whole that is a masterpiece. We are proud of all the work each of you do.

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Paula Richards, MSN, RN, CNN

Inpatient Services Area Manager, Penndel Region
Fresenius Kidney Care
Plymouth Meeting, PA
Keystone Chapter #110

How long have you been in nursing?

46 years

How long have you been in nephrology?

40 years

Why do you love nephrology?  

I have three kidneys. Save this for trivia. Once I found out about my kidneys, I was enthralled by what they did and how they work. As a student, I worked as a nurse aide and had great mentors. We had several patients on peritoneal dialysis, and they provided me with education on what happens, how it happens, and how to perform the procedure. It served me well in the 6 years I worked before entering into acute hemodialysis. In fact, prior to getting hired in hemodialysis, I had helped with peritoneal dialysis at the hospital where I had been employed. This sparked my interest in nephrology nursing even more and motivated me to apply for the acute hemodialysis position. I have never looked back on the decision to be a nephrology nurse 40 years ago. Nursing is my love; nephrology nursing is my passion!

What is your favorite ANNA member benefit and/or what do you love about being a member of ANNA?

I am a cheerleader for ANNA. I love it all! For the past 20 years, I have been active in ANNA at the local level, serving as president of the former Mass Bay Chapter and as current and past president of the Keystone Chapter. I also have held other chapter officer positions and moved to regional and national level positions over the years. In my early years with ANNA, I attended meetings when I could but was not as active as I have been in the past 20 years.

The support from ANNA for nursing issues on the local and national levels is outstanding. We see this in person when we go to "the Hill" every 2 years for the ANNA Health Policy Workshop, yet ANNA’s advocacy efforts occur every day. The support for patients with kidney disease is also outstanding. Many members may be unaware of what goes on "behind the scenes." Every chance I get, I talk about ANNA and recruit. For me, it is an integral part of my professional life and has aided and supported me throughout my career.

Do you have a favorite patient story that reminds you why it's all worth it?

In the beginning of my nephrology career, I had a patient who was so angry that he had to have dialysis. It was unpleasant for all of us in the inpatient unit when we were assigned to him. (This was at a time when outpatients could come to hospital units.) He complained about how his life had changed for the worse and how he would never be happy again. We were all concerned about his mental health and noticed on Fridays he was more angry and depressed than during the other treatment days. After finally getting him to talk, he shared his love of square dancing and attending square dancing events on the weekends. So, we asked him if he had tried square dancing since starting dialysis. He had not because he didn’t think he could. We encouraged him to attend a local square dancing event and participate as much as he could. Well, he came back on Monday happier than we had ever seen him. He began to plan his weekends and after dialysis on Fridays, he left for his square dancing events. A few months later, he was transferred to an outpatient unit. On his last day at the hospital-based unit, there was not a dry eye in the house. We helped him to see dialysis as a treatment option and not a lifestyle.

What are your favorite hobbies and/or pastimes outside of nursing?

Being with my grandchildren. I have 16 of them! I also enjoy traveling.

Share an interesting fact about yourself.

I love to drywall, paint, and put things together.