All it took was one general nutrition class in college, and Mary was hooked. Finding the field fascinating, she decided to “go for it,”– all the way to obtaining a master's of science in Medical Nutrition from St. Louis University. Mary’s degree opened a number of fields for her, but she wanted to specialize in one. “I covered for the renal dietitian while she was out on leave of absence and realized this was the field on which I wanted to focus my study,” she says.
In the 16 years Mary has been working with dialysis patients, she’s developed a personal and effective approach to treatment. “I like to give the patient the control. After all, it is their diet and health. I am there to assist them with these things,” Mary says. “I also like to make them laugh and have a pleasant visit, a positive experience. Working in dialysis is wonderful because you get to see your patients two to three times a week, so you can really do more with them, like in-depth teaching, and get to know the person well.”
Even though she gets to spend quality time with her patients, Mary says it is often challenging to motivate them to want to take care of themselves. She meets the challenge by helping them to learn to balance all the things they want with what they know is best for them. As an incentive, Mary’s center has an A+ Contest. “Everyone who gets an A+ on their report card gets to choose a pin as well as get their name put into a drawing to choose a prize,” she explains. “We post the name and prize for each month.”
Mary enjoys working with her team members at her DaVita center. “We are located close to a downtown area, so we get a lot of visitors,” she says. “It is really nice to hear, from almost all of our visitors, what a great dialysis unit we have because of our team.” And knowing that her patients are doing well because of Mary and her fellow team members makes her day and her chosen career truly rewarding.
Speaking of rewarding…weren’t you due for a treat? This recipe for Old Fashioned Applekuchen was passed down from Mary’s grandmother, to her mother then to her. And since Independence Day is here, Mary’s Red, White and Blue Salad is also a perfect reward for a job well done.