Tropical Ice Cream Sandwiches by Fatima from Oklahoma

Being a dietitian wasn’t the first profession considered by Fatima. “My father wanted me to become a chemist like him. I wanted to be a veterinarian,” she remembers. “He knew veterinary science was not for me, as cows and horses will be bigger than me. I am 5’2” and was thinking more of cats, dogs and birds. We agreed that I should take a course in Foods and Nutrition instead. I thought it would be cool that I will just be cooking, as I love to cook and invent new recipes. Later to my horror, I found out that chemistry was in every semester for four years. My father was glad that I would be immersed in chemistry.”

After resolving to learn all the chemistry, Fatima was hooked on being a dietitian. “I completed my bachelor’s degree in Foods and Nutrition from Centro Escolar University, in Manila and a Dietetic Internship at the Veterans Memorial Hospital in Quezon City. Then I came to the U.S. through the U.S. Exchange Visitors Program. The University of Oklahoma Medical Center sponsored me for a Dietetic Internship Program. Later, I completed a master’s degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Oklahoma.”

Fatima enjoys the positive influence she can have on her patients. “The most challenging aspect of my job is working with different people of different cultures and facilitating a change in their eating and thinking habits about foods to improve their health and life,” she says. Her dedication in working with her patients pays off. “It is very rewarding to be accepted and trusted by patients that listen and finally practice a healthier lifestyle,” Fatima says. “I find that even a very small change to improve their health is very exciting.”

Maintaining a healthy diet with chronic kidney disease can be challenging, which is why Fatima uses a creative approach to inspire her patients. “I introduced a new game for the patients in one of my clinics. It was a virtual bicycle race where patients race from Florida to California, gaining miles on the map according to their lab results. As I went from one patient to another, enthusiastically explaining the new game, an elderly woman in her 80s grabbed my arm and pulled me down to whisper, ‘Baby, I heard about the race, but I cannot even get out of my chair to ride a bike.’”

Fatima, who joined DaVita in 1996, works at two DaVita centers. “One location is a 10-station clinic," says Fatima. “I share a very little office space with the social worker and it is so little that we have to schedule ourselves to work there on different days. The  other location is a freestanding clinic. It has 18 stations. I have more space for an office there and finally got my own computer 10 months ago, which makes things more efficient,” she states.

Perhaps inspired by her upbringing in the tropical Philippines, Fatima brings us a recipe for Tropical Ice Cream Sandwiches. Fatima explains, “This is an original recipe I have developed. It has been taste-tested by teammates and patients. Some have asked for a second helping.”


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