Healthy food is good, but healthy food that tastes delicious is great. Carrie from Texas applied these high standards, and attained near-perfection with her recipe for Garlic Chicken with Balsamic Vinegar. Serve over rice with a dialysis diet recommended vegetable, and this meal is complete.
Carrie chose dietetics as a career because she thought it seemed interesting and jobs were never going to be a problem — after all, people are always going to need food. Her decision to become a renal dietitian came later. Carrie explains, “After working in a hospital and long-term-care setting, I needed a change. Renal nutrition was interesting but I found it very intimidating because it seemed so specialized. In 1999, through one of my professors at the University of Alabama, I found my first job in a dialysis clinic. There was a steep learning curve, but I quickly got the hang of it and loved it. I’ve been in dialysis ever since.”
Along with teaching patients about the dialysis diet, Carrie finds time to get to know her patients. “The most challenging part of my job is seeing a patient turn the corner and start living life again while on dialysis. They learn food is not the enemy and that dialysis doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy eating. I make a difference in patients’ lives by teaching them there are no taboo foods. They can eat just about anything they want if it’s worked into their diet plan. I try to keep a sense of humor and yet still convey the severity of the disease. Long-term bonds develop, and I enjoy my patients as people, too,” she shares.
Carrie tries to inspire her patients to get involved with their treatments. “Patients need to be an active part of their health care team. They need to know their numbers and how their actions affect well-being,” she recommends.
Finding new and creative ways to encourage patients is something Carrie enjoys. “One community-based approach that worked very well to motivate patients was when elementary school children made small quilts and donated them to the clinic. For over two years, I gave out one quilt per month to a patient with phosphorus in goal range. I finally ran out of quilts, but love to continue this activity in other ways,” she says.
Forming bonds with her patients brings Carrie great satisfaction. “I recently had a patient start dialysis and learned that he loved to write about the West. He is a huge history buff and particularly loves Texas history. He gave me a few of his short stories and part of a novel to read. Moments like this make me love my job — those interpersonal relationships and interesting tidbits you learn about people,” she shares.
Carrie has been with DaVita for over four years. “DaVita is all about having fun while providing excellent care,” she says. “I love our location. We have people here from the Philippines, Vietnam, Eretria, El Salvador, Puerto Rico and the U.S. I’ve learned a lot about different cultures by working here.”
Try something different for dinner tonight. Carrie’s Garlic Chicken with Balsamic Vinegar needs only a stovetop and skillet for preparation. Enjoy a kidney-friendly entrée with gourmet taste — now that’s great.