Some recipes have more eye-appeal than others, so if you’re in the market for a colorful dish that looks great on the plate, “Cranberry Chicken” is a good selection. Cranberries, ketchup, mustard, and more give this dish a robust flavor. Teamed up with white rice and green beans, it’s a dish fit for a picture. Jennifer from Maryland also mentions that it keeps well overnight in the refrigerator and tastes even better the next day.
While taking classes at the local community college, Jennifer attended an elective class in nutrition. “After taking that class, I decided a career in nutrition would be perfect for me,” she says. “I’ve always loved to help people and renal is one of the most challenging positions for a dietitian.” When a DaVita position opened up close to home, one of Jennifer’s friends, who also worked for DaVita, thought it would be a good fit. Jennifer applied and the rest, as they say, is history.
Originally born in Germany, Jennifer grew up in Maryland. “After getting married, I moved to North Carolina where I worked for my first DaVita facility. I’m now back in Maryland for my husband’s last enlistment with the United States Marine Corps. We hope to retire in southeastern North Carolina.”
The most challenging aspect of her job is trying to figure out what motivates individual patients to make the changes that will benefit their health. “The most rewarding aspect is when I make a breakthrough with a patient and their lab values start to improve,” she says. I try to make a difference in my patients’ lives by teaching how to eat responsibly. Food is such an important part of our culture so I think it is important for people to be able to enjoy the food they eat. My patients are a constant source of education for me and that’s probably what I enjoy most.” Jennifer also cites treating every patient as an individual and tailoring education and intervention to specific needs, as very important factors in her approach. “I make myself available to them, both on and off the treatment floor. Sometimes patients are more comfortable meeting and discussing their care in an office setting or by phone.“
The most important thing patients can do to improve their health, in Jennifer’s opinion, is to empower themselves and actively participate in their own healthcare. To help make this easier for every person in her care, Jennifer puts recipes in the lobby each week so that patients always have access to something new. “I made low phosphorus fudge during the holidays and provided a piece to each patient – along with the recipe. They seem to really enjoy trying new things!”
Her career with DaVita started in 2007, and Jennifer has always been impressed with the continuous opportunities offered for growth and learning. “I love the resources that are available to me as a dietitian. Since growing more aware of CKD, I’m surprised at the number of people who are affected by this disease. I recently started back to work with DaVita after living overseas in Post Soviet Europe for two years. I was covering in a clinic with a lot of Spanish-speaking patients and introduced myself to a patient. But what came out of my mouth was half in Spanish and half in Russian! The patient asked me, “Where are you from?” He was very amused, I was very embarrassed.
“What I love about my center is that I grew up just a few miles away. I think the patients like the fact that their dietitian is from the same neighborhood. Of course I love that it’s close to home. The center is large, with hemo and PD patients. This was a private practice prior to becoming a DaVita facility. The physicians are caring and compassionate and the teammates respect each other and work together to provide the best possible care for our patients.”
Jennifer is just one of our hard-working and dedicated dietitians. Try her “Cranberry Chicken” recipe and don’t be afraid to serve some as leftovers the next day. It’s just as delicious, maybe even more, once the flavors blend overnight.
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