Citrus Salmon by Jennifer L. from Wisconson

When you’re looking for an easy recipe for delicious salmon that cooks up on the grill in no time, turn to Citrus Salmon from DaVita renal dietitian, Jennifer from Wisconsin. Salmon packs a healthy punch that is matched by few other foods. It offers exceptional nutritional value, with plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin D, plus it’s low in saturated fats and is a good source of easily digestible protein. Jennifer adapted a cookbook recipe to create this delicious salmon entrée that can be enjoyed by all, including those with kidney problems.

Jennifer, who is originally from the Chicago area, now resides in Madison, Wisconsin. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and then went on to the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit to complete her dietetic internship.

When asked how she chose dietetics, Jennifer explained that she was always interested in health and wellness, and nutrition seemed a perfect fit for her. Getting into the renal specialty was not something that she had planned, however. “I stumbled upon the renal field accidentally and really took a liking to it,” Jennifer reveals. “Nutrition can make an enormous difference in the well-being of the renal patient.”

For Jennifer, the most rewarding aspect of her job is assisting patients in making lifestyle changes through their diets, thus improving the quality of their lives. Of course, it’s not always easy helping patients to help themselves. “The most challenging aspect of my job is convincing non-adherent patients to comply with dietary guidelines and meds and to tell the truth about both. And to care,” explains Jennifer.

Regardless of challenges, this DaVita dietitian always keeps the focus on the positive. “I keep a positive, upbeat attitude when I see my patients,” says Jennifer. “I try to bring them useful and different information and lots of encouragement each time I am in the unit.”

By her example and words, Jennifer teaches her patients that attitude is everything. “I tell them that the single most important thing patients can do to improve their health is to keep a good attitude,” relates Jennifer. “The dialysis experience is what you choose to make it.”

Every day is different in the DaVita clinic, but for Jennifer, one thing is constant: “Getting to know them and learning what makes them tick is what I enjoy most about working with my patients.”

Unlike most dietitians, Jennifer brings sales experience to her job at DaVita. “Before working with DaVita, I worked in pharmaceutical and nutraceutical sales,” she explains. “I have been able to apply the sales skills I learned in those positions to encourage people to make lifestyle changes. I consistently ‘sell’ patients on themselves, and individualize their care so they ‘buy in’ to their own health.”

As part of her communication style, Jennifer likes to switch around the language she uses to educate her renal patients. “I may be talking about Kt/V and describe it as how well the dialysis is working for you, how efficient the dialysis is cleaning your blood, the adequacy of your treatment, your formula for how much dialysis is needed, how well the impurities are being removed from your blood, treatment prescription goal, etc.,” Jennifer explains. “Also, DaVita has so many different educational pieces on the Dietitian Connection, I like to mix up the handouts regularly.”

The DaVita clinic where Jennifer works is located in Janesville, in the south central part of Wisconsin, and is known as the City of Parks. Jennifer says she’s found the people at her clinic to be really exceptional and she loves their team approach. “There is a unique collection of people here that make our center special,” Jennifer states. “We all work together for the greater good of the patient. We have each other’s backs and work as a team no matter the circumstance, good or bad. We all work toward the common goal of excellent patient care. We are good to each other.”

The camaraderie among Jennifer’s coworkers is apparent. “At the end of the day, there is always someone who says to the remaining team ‘Thanks for a wonderful day!’”  Jennifer recounts. “These words mean a lot.”

In fact, this DaVita team doesn’t break up when the workday ends. “Our team enjoys spending time together outside of work as well, either on a volleyball league, or rafting down the Sugar River or grilling out!” says Jennifer.

Jennifer’s dedication to her DaVita renal patients is something that has grown over time. “Before working in Janesville, I was at DaVita Freeport for 9 months. To get to the treatment floor, the patients would have to pass by my office door,” relates Jennifer. “Often, patients would pop into my office, sit down and share their stories with me. They might confess that they had eaten homegrown tomatoes, or show me pictures of their granddaughter’s dance recital, or tell me how they fretted over car trouble, or share their fear of their spouse having cancer. These sporadic visits helped build relationships and solidified my commitment within myself to giving them my best every day.”

Summing up, Jennifer says: “Dialysis is a big commitment for each of them, but a small part of their lives. I am dedicated to making the time I have with my patients count.”

When you’re looking for a healthy dish that will please even finicky fish eaters and those on the kidney diet, try Jennifer’s yummy Citrus Salmon. Your body – and taste buds – will thank you!

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