NNCC President, Theresa Mottes


Clarity in her career path has never been an issue for Theresa Mottes.

“Nursing was a calling. I just always knew I’d be a nurse. And, I always knew pediatric nursing was my focus. It’s what I was meant to do.” 

Meet the new NNCC president, a dedicated leader who has more than 25 years of pediatric renal replacement therapy experience under her belt. She’s a passionate leader who shies away from the spotlight, putting her energy into patient safety and deep connections.

She’s also a passionate volunteer advocate for nephrology certification. Before stepping into her 2-year role as president earlier this month, Mottes served as an NNCC Commissioner for four years. She was also on the CDN test committee from 2011-2017. Mottes is a longtime member of American Nephrology Nurses Association (ANNA) and she led ANNA’s Pediatric Specialty Practice Network from 2011-13.

She currently works as a pediatric nurse practitioner, Renal Services, Department of Pediatrics, at Texas Children's Hospital, and is an adjunct instructor, Renal Services, Department of Pediatrics, at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, TX.

"Getting certified was for my own personal growth, but it changed the trajectory of my career."

Bringing the value of nephrology certification to the attention of health care providers and the public is one of Mottes’ goals during her tenure. During the next 2 years, she will work with the NNCC Board to steer the operations, goals, and visions of NNCC, serve certificants, and educate others on the value of nephrology certification.

An Interview with Theresa Mottes

Theresa shares the joys and challenges of nursing, the rewards of being an educator, and how she motivates her students and other nurses.

Your path started in pediatrics, then pediatric dialysis. What drew you to these areas and how that happened?

From the beginning of my career, I was drawn to pediatric nursing. I started in 1987 at the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, on a school-age floor.

After 3 years, I had the opportunity to move to the pediatric intensive care unit, where I found my true calling and passion. I was exposed to continuous dialysis modalities while in the ICU and I loved the challenge of providing this technically complicated care.

After 10 years in the ICU, I was offered a chance to be a part of the team that was creating and opening the first pediatric dialysis program at Mott Hospital. This combined my love of intensive care and dialysis.

Your career involves critically ill children and CRRT. How do you deal emotionally with the intensive nature of these patients?

That’s hard to describe. Children are resilient. 

What is the single most inspirational thing that ever happened to you as a nurse?

Caring for infants with renal disease is my inspiration. There’s so much that goes into providing dialysis to this population; it’s challenging and rewarding as they grow and develop. 

One of the most inspirational things is caring for my very first infant with end stage renal disease. This child required dialysis from birth. Watching him grow, be transplanted at age 2, and graduate from high school last year has been so rewarding. 

What motivates you as a human and as a nurse? As an educator?

My motivation for teaching comes from watching nurses have that “Aha!” moment, when they begin to understand how the principles of dialysis affect the patient, and then incorporate that change into their practice.

My motivation for nursing is being there for children and their families, to help them understand what is happening and the treatment they need. It’s gaining their confidence to care for their child. It’s being with them and experiencing the ups and downs with them.

How do you inspire others to become certified in nephrology? You’re clearly an advocate.

Certification has opened so many doors that have been instrumental in advancing my career. Getting certified was for my own personal growth, but it changed the trajectory of my career. 

When I talk with nurses about certification, I always share that certification is what changed my career. It opened the door for my being asked to lead research projects, join the NNCC test writing committee, and to eventually become the president of NNCC. Without taking that paper and pencil test 10 years ago, I would not be on this path. 

How did you originally find NNCC?

When I became the manager for the pediatric dialysis program, we set a goal to get our staff certified. As the leader it was necessary for me to role model and ‘walk the walk.’

Why did you become a leader?

Through my relationships with NNCC, I was supported to be a leader. My NNCC colleagues made me believe in myself. 

For the future, I want to keep NNCC moving forward and advocating for patient safety by engaging all nurses,no matter their career stage.

Reported by Janet D’Alesandro, NNCC Communications and Media Relations Director.