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Melissa from Massachusetts turned her personal interests in high school into her professional career as a dietitian. “I figured this career was perfect for me. Dietetics offers wide varieties of work environments such as hospitals, schools, community health programs, dialysis clinics, restaurants, private practices and food manufactures,” says Melissa. Because she knew she wanted a career helping people, Melissa enjoys working in a dialysis clinic. “It allows me to continue using my clinical skills as well as to interact with and educate people and make a difference in their lives,” shares Melissa.
Another rewarding aspect of being a renal dietitian for Melissa is the opportunity to work collaboratively with the entire health care team including nephrologists, renal nurses, social workers and patient care technicians to provide long-term support to hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis patients.
When her dialysis patients have their lab results within their goal ranges for albumin, phosphorus, etc., Melissa knows it is the result of their adhering to their renal diet and taking their medications as prescribed. Melissa understands that it can be challenging for patients to become compliant to their diet and medications; however, when kidney disease patients realize that what they eat affects their lab values and how they feel, it encourages them to continue good habits.
Because nutrition plays a large role in having patients cleared for kidney transplants, Melissa works diligently to earn the trust of her patients so they’ll be more willing to adhere to diet recommendations and listen to suggestions regarding taking phosphorus binders. “Developing a rapport and getting to know my patients and their families and caregivers is what I enjoy most about my job. It’s rewarding when my interventions are successful,” shares Melissa.
Using positive reinforcement with her patients and their families is the best approach for Melissa. “Educating each patient is very individualized and patient specific. I point out improvements in lab values to encourage them to continue following their dialysis diets and taking their medications as prescribed,” says Melissa. She also reminds her patients how important it is to show up for scheduled hemodialysis treatments and to perform peritoneal dialysis consistently.
While sticking to a dialysis diet can sound drab, Melissa says it doesn't have to be. She perks up your taste buds with her mouthwatering recipe for Baked Cauliflower and Broccoli Mac-n-Cheese. Sure it sounds yummy…because it really is!
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