The single most important thing a patient can do to improve their health is know the facts, says Sharon, a dedicated renal dietitian, from Illinois. “I think people need to know what is going on with their health through good communication with their health care team,” says Sharon, adding, “They [kidney patients] need to be actively involved as much as possible and know their options so they can make their health care decisions based on good information, not fear or some other emotion.”
Sharon recognizes the physical, as well as, the psychological struggle dialysis patients face. Her personalized care supports her patients to make healthy food choices. Sharon says, “I think I make a difference in patients’ lives through empowering them as much as possible through knowledge of their dietary needs. And by providing encouragement and letting them know that someone cares and is willing to take the time to work through their specific situation. I have a ‘down to earth’ or realistic approach. I try to help them learn how to make all foods fit as much as possible. I encourage patients to learn more about food and their diet needs so that they have the power to control their outcomes.”
Sharon was drawn to the dietary field by the many fascinating aspects of the job. “I like the variety of areas (clinical, community and food service) and specialties that dietitians can experience throughout their careers.” The renal field especially interested Sharon. “I had a two-week clinical rotation during my undergraduate course work in a dialysis unit. All the textbook information really came together when I was able to see how it applied to the real world. I love how diet plays such a major part in managing kidney disease. People can see immediate changes in their lab data and how they feel by following their renal diet,” reports Sharon.
“The most rewarding aspect of my job is hearing about patients successes,” shares Sharon. “When I have a patient who tells me they feel more comfortable with their diet and are not ‘afraid to eat’ because they have a better understanding of their diet needs, or those patients that reach their lab goal or optimal fluid control; these are the stories I loves to hear,” beams Sharon.
Sharon helps her patients achieve success, and all success comes from conquering challenges. “The most challenging aspect of my job is coming up with new ways to motivate patients who have been on dialysis many years and continually struggle with optimal diet/medication/treatment compliance.”
The personal touch that Sharon provides makes her a trusted member of her patients’ health care team. “I enjoy getting to know the patients as individuals and sharing common interests. I really like that I have the opportunity to teach the patients about their nutritional needs in several short sessions and then do follow-up weekly or monthly as needed, instead of everything all at once like most hospital settings. I am able to individualize the patient’s diet with him or her and modify it over time.”
Sharon not only enjoys her patients, but also takes pleasure in working with her DaVita teammates. “I’m extremely proud of the team and their quality of patient care. I praise my teammates for making my job easier. They are very supportive of what I teach the patients and are good to reinforce basic diet information and medication compliance.”
Working for DaVita has been a great experience for Sharon. “I love all of the resources and opportunities to network with other DaVita dietitians. I really appreciate the support provided by DaVita, and I really like the strong sense of team. I feel like the company really strives to listen to the teammates. I feel like I matter!” states Sharon.
Give Sharon’s innovative and easy-to-make Chicken and Summer Squash Bow-Tie Pasta recipe a try. This tasty dish is a complete meal with protein, vegetable and pasta. It’s great for the dialysis diet and enjoyable for the whole family.