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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Dorothy Ellis, MA, BSN, RN

CEO & Nurse Executive
Dialysis Nurses & Associates, LLC,
D Ellis Consultants
Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles Chapter #508

How long have you been in nursing?

I have been a registered nurse since 1974 – for a total of 45 years. I am presently transforming, not retiring, from the clinical setting to education and consulting. I want to continue as a volunteer to the ANNA Specialty Practice Networks (SPNs) as an advisor or a leader, as needed.

I entered a pilot BSN program at the University of Central Arkansas in 1973:

  • The program required college class studies and nursing clinical at the same time.
  • After completing the first year, we could challenge the LVN boards. I was an LVN in 1974.
  • After completing the second year, we could challenge the RN boards and receive an associate degree in nursing. I was an RN with an associate degree in 1974.
  • After completing 4 years, we were awarded our BSN degree. In 1977, I received my BSN.

How long have you been in nephrology?

I have been an acute hemodialysis nurse since 1983 – for 36 years. After working in critical care, which included ICU/CCU (postoperative open heart), the emergency room, and other areas of critical care nursing for almost 10 years, I was recruited and trained as an acute dialysis nurse in 1983 to perform hemodialysis on acute and chronic hospitalized patients.

Why do you love nephrology?

Nephrology is a unique specialty in nursing. Acute dialysis has provided me with various experiences requiring hours of dedication and focused patient care for all ages, from infants to older adults. It has provided me with the opportunity to perform dialysis in various hospital settings; ICU, CCU, the emergency room, and the operating room during open heart and liver transplant surgery. Over the years, as a nephrology nurse, I have been in the position to understand or perform the duties in nephrology as an administrator, a director, a manager, a coordinator, a consultant, a case manager, an educator, a business owner, and the most rewarding of all, one-to-one patient care in the clinical setting.

Nephrology nursing has provided me with a plethora of learning experiences and a lifetime of memorable learned experiences that I can share with my colleagues and in educating my patients and their families. My nephrology nursing career continues to be a rewarding career. I continue to acquire knowledge and education in hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, CRRT, and apheresis to share with others.

What is your favorite ANNA member benefit?

I love the communication and learning experiences through the ANNA Open Forum in ANNA Connected. I value the leadership training I receive from my peers in the SPN volunteer role as an advisor throughout the year. The annual symposia are a family reunion of nurses. We not only learn valuable information from our peers and colleagues in nephrology nursing, we get to network. The symposia are seminars of education from evidence-based studies provided by experts on a national level. All members that I have met are open to sharing their knowledge and professional experiences. ANNA’s online library, publications, and modules continue to be my reference for facts and evidence-based information, which is useful in creating teaching objectives and references for my policy and procedure manuals. ANNA is a platform of education and learning and sharing of experiences in nephrology nursing – the true benefit of ANNA membership.

Do you have a favorite patient story?

In my 36 years of nephrology nursing, I have had so many rewarding experiences. One patient had nowhere left to place an access – no extremity or jugular or subclavian vein for dialysis. The patient had blocked subclavian vessels. He was alert and a comedian by profession. The surgeon went from his back (spine area) into the subclavian for a workable catheter. We performed 5-hour treatments daily, due to low blood flows. This was performed with the Redy dialysis machine. We changed the cartridge after 2.5 hours and the bath at the same time. It was amazing!

Another story close to my heart is a 19-year-old college student who collapsed in her college dorm. She immediately started hemodialysis after a diagnosis of lupus which affected her lungs. She was intubated and fully alert on admission from the emergency department. We created a bond. Every treatment, we focused on her future in the fashion world. She was studying to become a fashion designer. I am involved with an organization, Lupus Los Angeles. Every year we host a fashion show of designer fashions and our goal was for her attend once she was discharged. After months of dialysis in the hospital and rehabilitation, she was discharged. She attended the fashion show and created a beautiful design for her friend and herself to wear. We continue to communicate. She visits Los Angeles with a friend from San Antonio, TX, every December. She is presently on peritoneal dialysis.

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

I enjoy reading, movies, traveling, walking, hiking, gourmet cooking classes, dancing, and caring for my rescue doggies. I also enjoy going to antique stores and wondering flea markets. I love spending time with my family and friends. I thrive on alone time to meditate on the blessings in my life and any possible circumstance. “To much is given, much is required” is one of my favorite quotes from the Bible. I have been a volunteer in Los Angeles for several organizations and am on the board for Lupus Los Angeles as a volunteer.

Share an interesting fact about yourself.

Many do not know that I completed the Los Angeles marathon in 2010. I co-hosted a radio talk show in Los Angeles with a nephrologist and my mentor, Dr. Randall M., in the mid-80s. I had the opportunity to host, as talent, interviews on health and community issues with the powers that be in the Oakland, CA, area on cable television. I worked in the production of a TV program for ABC- KGO TV called Dr. Dean Edell, a nationally syndicated medical television show, while living in San Francisco in the mid-80s. I was in graduate school at the time. I thought I wanted to be a health reporter. At the end of my graduate studies, prior to graduation, I was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the most complicated type of lupus to diagnose and treat. Lupus affected my kidneys. I was told I would probably be on dialysis in 10 years. I had to decide which career path to follow – broadcast journalism or nephrology nursing. My choice was nephrology nursing, with no regrets. I am a walking testimony of God’s grace and healing powers. Through prayer and an understanding of how to manage lupus, my kidneys are functioning at 100%. I continue to enjoy a rewarding career in nephrology nursing and education.