It’s always wonderful when something you created exceeds your expectations. That’s what’s happened with the Neonatal and Infant Course for Kidney Support (NICKS), a one-and-a-half-day educational program on infant dialysis that combines didactic teaching from a variety of specialists, an opportunity to hear a parental perspective, “hands-on” skills sessions, and virtual small group case simulations.
Pediatric nephrologist David Askenazi, MD, co-founded the course in 2019 with acute dialysis nurse practitioner Kara Short, MSN, CRNP, after new technology enabled safer and more effective dialysis on neonates and small children. The two realized there was a huge need for clinicians to understand how dialysis is different for this population.
The program was supposed to be held in person, but COVID drove it online, which worked to their benefit by making the course more accessible. They’ve held nine courses so far, all sold out with large waiting lists (they try to limit it to 50 a class). “We don’t just talk about the dialysis machines,” Askenazi said, “but also clinical scenarios, troubleshooting, medications, nutrition, educating the nursing staff and tracking quality improvement. Participants learn how to build a program, not just run a machine.”
To date, 359 clinicians have attended the training, including 120 nephrologists and 52 neonatologists, as well as nurses and nurse practitioners. Attendees have logged on from as far as Qatar, Israel and South Africa, and nearly every major children’s hospital in the country has had at least one attendee.
“We find it so important to share our patient stories and our lessons learned the hard way in order to empower other programs to confidently treat their patients and hopefully help babies like we have,” Short said.
The course will begin live sessions this fall, with a limit of 20 participants. Askenazi and Short are also planning an international neonatal nephrology symposium for fall 2024.