For some people, a job is more than just a job. This is true for Karen, who was called to the field of dietetics after the loss of her mother to kidney disease.
“My mother was a dialysis patient when I was 17, and she passed away 10 years ago due to various medical complications,” says Karen, a DaVita dietitian based out of California. “The experience made me realize how important nutrition and diet is for patients on dialysis, and I was determined to pursue my career as a renal dietitian.”
Raised in Hong Kong and Washington, Karen studied dietetics at University of California, Davis before specializing in renal.
“Renal nutrition has a special place in my heart,” Karen notes. “When I take care of patients on dialysis, I feel like I am helping people like my mother somehow.”
As someone who can personally relate to the intricacies of kidney disease, Karen goes out of her way to “empower patients with accurate nutrition information,” and takes the time to “frequently review lab results with patients and families.”
Although working as a renal dietitian has its challenges, Karen says the rewards are plentiful, such as when she gets to take part in the improvement of a patient’s health status.
“I get to know each patient on a personal level,” she says. “I learn about their preferences, lifestyles, family background and more.”
Karen also credits her “friendly teammates” and the “diverse population” of the California neighborhood where she’s located with making her job at DaVita so much fun for the past three and a half years. She was surprised to learn how big DaVita had become in the region.
“There are clinics everywhere in California!” she enthuses.
Working for an organization that serves the needs of approximately 115,000 dialysis patients with more than 1,500 outpatient dialysis facilities in the United States makes it that much more special when your local clinic gets a fresh coat of paint.
“Our clinic just got painted in white and blue,” she says. “It’s very nice.”
The extra effort Karen takes with her patients hasn’t gone unnoticed, either.
“My dialysis patients say they really miss me whenever I go away for meetings and mini-vacations, and they want to make sure I am not leaving the clinic when I return,” she admits. “I feel loved and fortunate every day I go to work.
Karen’s warm attitude on the job helps her foster “acceptance and relationship-building” between patients and their families.
“I treat them like they are my friends or grandparents — far more than just a patient-medical professional relationship,” Karen observes.
Karen’s personal approach encourages her patients to “adhere to dialysis treatment, medications and kidney diet orders."
But Karen doesn’t stop there when it comes to galvanizing her patients to action.
“I have given out award certificates to patients in the past few months based on their clinical outcomes,” Karen adds. “Patients really appreciated them.”
One patient, Anthony, was so moved by Karen’s commitment to health, he shared the Curry Sauce recipe featured in this article.
“Anthony has many years of culinary experience, and loves to cook,” Karen says. “He enjoys creating kidney-friendly recipes, and Curry Sauce is one of his favorites.”
It’s easy to see why Anthony loves his Curry Sauce with Meat. Exotic, hearty and suitable for people managing kidney disease, this Curry Sauce is sure to add a little sizzle to everyone’s kidney diet.