Jennifer developed a very personal interest in diet and nutrition when she lost one of her kidneys at eight years old. After reading on the back of a comic book that dietitians learn the science of food and help people with health awareness, Jennifer decided to make it her life’s work.
After growing up on a Kansas tree farm and attending college at Kansas State University, Jennifer developed her own style of working with patients. “I always try to be positive and talk about what they can eat before discussing avoidance or limitations. I take a personal interest in every individual I see and try to get a smile, or start a conversation about their family or the day’s activities.”
“The most rewarding aspect of my job is educating and helping patients take new responsibilities for their health,” shares Jennifer. When asked what the single most important thing people with kidney disease can do to improve their health, Jennifer answers, “Take responsibility for their actions when cooking, grocery shopping, exercising and taking medicine.” She also stresses the importance of keeping doctor and dialysis appointments.
Jennifer is always touched by the confidence patients have in her. “They tell me things they won’t tell the doctor or nurse. I had a patient in tears tell me she’s never been able to swallow pills. She felt it was a personal flaw. With help from her doctor and pharmacist, I came up with a way for her to safely swallow three pills. Her new confidence made me feel like I had really influenced her life for the better. That was a terrific feeling.”
Jennifer has been with DaVita for four years, and says the most valuable and surprising thing she’s learned is the importance of diet in laboratory outcomes. She says a big plus is the support of her DaVita teammates who are, “…always planning little treats and surprises to celebrate birthdays or new babies. My teammates take great pride in the unit, and the facility administrator makes us feel important. That’s why working at DaVita is special.”
Of all the recipes she’s tried, Jennifer says that Glistening Frog Eye Salad is the sure-fire favorite everyone likes. If you’ve never heard of Acini di Pepe pasta, no worries—Jennifer says it’s easy to find in grocery stores as well as large chain stores that also carry packaged foods. So why not whip up something new and try a taste of Kansas.