Lauren always knew she wanted a career in health care, and after contemplating a choice between nursing and dietetics, she chose dietetics. “I have never regretted my decision,” she says “After graduating from Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, I consulted in long-term care. When a position in dialysis care became available four miles from my house, I jumped at the chance.”
“Hard-to-reach patients are the most challenging aspect of my job,” states Lauren, adding, “The rewards come when I can see that compliant patients who work hard finally receive a transplant, or non-transplant candidates work hard to live healthy on dialysis.” Lauren has a strategy for reaching her patients. “I try to make a difference in patients’ lives by building rapport. Sometimes, it’s not about the diet—it’s about letting them know you care. We truly become an extended family to our patients.”
Patients give back to Lauren with their courage, strength and perseverance, and in return, her approach is mild. “As I said before, it’s so important to establish rapport and let patients know I am not there to judge, but to guide and cheer them on. The single most important thing a patient can do to improve health is go forward with moderation in everything. That’s a huge key.”
Lauren spent six years working for Gambro and has been with DaVita since the integration. She mentions that one of her favorite things about working for DaVita is, “We truly work as a Village. The slogan ‘All for one and one for all’ rings true. I also appreciate the availability of downloading patient education materials via computer.” This has helped her collect information to share with her patients. “An approach I have found popular with patients is having monthly bulletin boards: posting recipes, crosswords and puzzles. Patients like to play as they learn,” she says.
“At our center we have a broad range of socioeconomic classes and I like the mixture of patients from city to rural. We have 138 hemodialysis patients and approximately 60 peritoneal dialysis patients.” Lauren tells a story about someone she met at the dialysis center. “About three years ago, our local Kidney Foundation chapter sponsored a dinner for Nick Clooney in honor of his 50 years in broadcasting. A few of us from the northern Kentucky units were lucky enough to attend. Imagine our surprise when we arrived to find Nick’s most famous relative, George Clooney, there, greeting everyone in attendance and patiently posing for pictures for over two hours. Now, there is a gracious family.”
Try Lauren’s family recipe for Angel Strawberry Delight—it’s a sweet taste of Kentucky.