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Fresenius Medical Care: What Sets Our Nurses Apart

Our Global Heads of Nursing

Michelle Carver and Marjelka Trkulja share their experiences as longtime dialysis nurses and leaders.

Many nurses would agree that it’s more than a career — it’s a calling. Nurses Michelle Carver and Marjelka Trkulja can certainly relate. Carver is the Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Vice President of Nursing and Clinical Services at Fresenius Medical Care, while Trkulja serves as Senior Director Nursing, Care Delivery International. Both women share a passion for patient care and a love for dialysis nursing. Their stories and determination to help both people on dialysis and other nurses are emblematic of the talent and dedication of Fresenius Medical Care’s global nursing staff.

Michelle Carver: 30 Years of Making a Difference in Nursing

Carver spent the first five years of her career in acute care before being introduced to dialysis nursing. “I was caught by the dialysis bug, and I loved it,” Carver recounts. She continues, “I loved the chronic care management process and really getting to know patients and their families on a much deeper level.”

Now in her 30th year of nursing, Carver no longer works in direct patient care, instead working to support and empower patient-facing employees. 

I feel like my biggest role in the organization is to be a servant leader and to try to remove as many barriers as possible for our nurses, our patient care technicians, our dietitians, our social workers, and more, so that they can give the best care possible in the most efficient way possible.

Michelle Carver
Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Vice President of Nursing and Clinical Services at Fresenius Medical Care

Managing chronic illnesses

Carver, like many Fresenius Medical Care nurses, felt particularly drawn to nephrology nursing. Unlike an acute care setting where patients may only interact with their nurses for a single medical event, nephrology nurses work with patients who have a chronic disease. This affords them the opportunity to work with the same patients to provide high-quality continuing care, which allows nurses to form a deeper connection with patients. Carver explains, “You have a greater visibility into the care that you provide and how that impacts the patients’ quality of life over time.” Nephrology nurses can see patients through a continuum of care, which many nurses find particularly rewarding.

Modern nursing challenges and solutions

Globally, there has been a shortage of trained nurses in the workforce, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic. This is also true in nephrology nursing. Carver notes this as an area of concern for the profession, and has worked to advocate for nurses, particularly within Fresenius Medical Care. Carver and others hope that by being servant leaders and fostering our people, patients and the field of nephrology nursing won’t suffer.

Carver explains, “Fresenius Medical Care believes continued investment in our career development programs, creating a supportive work environment, and ensuring we recognize and appreciate our nurses is key to retention.”

Supporting nurses and their careers

In North America, there are several key retention and advancement efforts underway to support our clinical staff. The Clinical Advancement Program recognizes and rewards nurses who provide advanced clinical practice and leadership while caring for patients. Additionally, our Go4RN program provides tuition assistance for continuing education — and unlike many tuition assistance programs, tuition is paid up-front so that clinical staff aren’t burdened with paying tuition then requesting reimbursement. That removes a barrier to returning to school for some employees who might not be able to pay tuition out of pocket.

Marjelka Trkulja’s Journey in Dialysis Nursing

Originally from Croatia and now located near our corporate headquarters in Germany, Trkulja initially learned about dialysis nursing during her first year of nursing training. She did a three-month rotation in a dialysis center and was hooked.

Trkulja spent the next 15 years as a dialysis nurse in her hometown of Rijeka, Croatia. She began working with Fresenius Medical Care Croatia as Country Nursing Manager and Country Responsible Trainer. After that, she had the opportunity to move to Germany, where she became the Head of Nursing for all of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Now she leads the international nursing workforce, and like her counterpart in North America, Trkulja is an advocate for patients and nurses alike.

After learning about renal patients and dialysis, being part of that special world that is combining patient care, technology, and comprehensive education has never ceased to amaze me.

Marjelka Trkulja
Senior Director Nursing, Care Delivery International

Providing leadership and guidance

Trkulja supports other nurses who believe in their abilities and work toward career advancement. “As nurses, we don’t give ourselves enough value and we don’t believe that ambition and knowledge will lead us anywhere. And that is wrong,” Trkulja says. She continues, “By setting clear goals, seeking mentorship, exploring diverse opportunities, and staying resilient, you can achieve your career aspirations and make a meaningful impact in the nursing profession.”

Leading in professional development

Fresenius Medical Care works worldwide to help clinic staff achieve their professional and educational goals. A variety of courses offered in different languages at Care Delivery International centers are available immediately upon starting work. Trkulja explains there are several programs available to nurses for education and career growth that “aim to enhance clinical skills, knowledge and expertise, promote evidence-based practice, and support career advancement.” Programs may vary in different regions, and Trkulja notes that the educational courses expand yearly to meet the growing needs of clinical staff and to help remove any gaps in knowledge.

Shared Values That Make a Difference

Carver and Trkulja, like many in the organization, are proud of the diligent nurses working in Fresenius Medical Care dialysis centers worldwide. Carver attributes the success of our nursing staff to employees living the corporate mission of creating a future worth living. For patients. Worldwide. Every day.

Carver says, “Our nurses are living that mission every single day. It's really all about the patient experience and how we can serve our patients in the best way possible while still ensuring that we're delivering exceptional care.”


Publication date: May 2024

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