Zucchini is one of the most flexible vegetables. You can make zucchini bread or muffins, add it raw to a salad, steam, boil, microwave or fry it, or you can try Zucchini Frittata submitted by DaVita dietitian Jessica from California. This kidney-friendly recipe, modified from the one her grandmother (Nana) made is sure to please!
Knowledge of food is an important ingredient to being a good dietitian, but being a natural detective is priceless. Jessica is half dietitian and half Sherlock Holmes. Her unique ability to uncover information in a casual, friendly way has helped to make big improvements in her patient’s lives. Jessica explains, “There is a great quote by Anonymous, ‘There is only one rule to become a good talker; learn how to listen.’ The longer I work in this field, the more I realize that you really do make a greater impact when you listen more than you talk.”
Jessica has seen many changes in her patients’ health due to her keen listening skills. “I had a patient that had struggled with phosphorus since he started dialysis. He had become so frustrated when anyone even mentioned the word ‘phosphorus’, that it became a very touchy subject to bring up with him. One day, after labs were received, I asked him if we could do the Deep Dive Phosphorus tool together. [A tool to examine which foods in the diet are high in phosphorus.] He reluctantly agreed to do it, and as we were going over it, we found a couple of very important factors that had been contributing to his high phosphorus that he hadn’t been aware of. At the next monthly lab draw, his phosphorus came back within the normal limit. He was so happy, his smile said it all. His phosphorus has remained under control since then, and you can see a change in his attitude. It has been so rewarding to see this patient make the adjustments he needed to make, and see changes not only in his labs but his overall health and outlook on being on dialysis.”
Being sensitive to patient’s needs is a special quality Jessica possesses. Her primary goal is to be a valuable resource for her dialysis patients and educate them about their personal health care. Jessica shares, “Knowledge is power and the more you know about your health and the ways to maintain it, the easier it is to do so. Because there are so many different types of learners, we have tried to incorporate all learning styles to reach more patients. For example, for patients who are visual learners we give handouts and do demonstrations; for audible learners, we show video tapes and give verbal instructions.”
Jessica, an athlete, became interested in nutrition early on. She shares, “Growing up, I played volleyball and softball and was always very interested in fitness and exercise. As sports became more competitive and I started to realize the impact that eating well and overall nutrition played in performing well, my interest in dietetics also became more evident.” Jessica’s education led her to the renal field. “During my dietetic internship, I had a wonderful experience during my renal rotation. From my preceptor to the patients, I just loved the involvement and teamwork that the renal field offered. After doing several prior rotations, once I got to renal, I knew this was the field for me,” states Jessica.
The relationships Jessica has with her patients are the most fulfilling aspect of her job. She says, “I enjoy working with such courageous, dedicated, inspiring patients and their family members to help them understand ways to maintain and improve their health. I love the continuous interaction, when you get to help them through their set backs and see their accomplishments.”
Jessica enjoys her colleagues as much as she enjoys her patients. “We just opened in January and our teammates and patients here ROCK! Our teammates are a dedicated, hard-working, fun group of individuals. Everyday, when I come to work, I always see a ton of smiles from both the teammates and the patients, and to me, there is no better feeling,” says Jessica.
Celebrating her one year anniversary with DaVita, Jessica appreciates the uniqueness of DaVita. Jessica states, “I have worked for a couple other dialysis companies and I thought it was very interesting how DaVita has made clinical outcomes one of their main focuses, more so than any other company I have worked for. And, of course, with better clinical outcomes, comes better patient care and improved health for our patients. The company really makes you feel like a valued member of the team. I love that “fun” is one of the company’s seven core values, because I’m a big fan of having fun!”
Jessica’s patients face special challenges living in the Golden State. “It can get very hot in the summer. Fluid issues become a top priority for educating patients around this time,” explains Jessica. Another area that is challenging is the local cuisine. According to Jessica, “Mexican food is very popular here — which of course brings beans and cheese, etc. — which can make phosphorus a big challenge for some of our patients. Of course, the produce in California is outstanding, so sometimes, potassium is also an issue, especially in spring and summer.”
Having a sunny disposition helps Jessica face her own challenges. “Motivating and inspiring patients that sometimes don’t want to be inspired is tough. You never really know if you make a difference in a patients’ life or not, but I do love when I see a patient that has struggled with fluid or phosphorus issues finally get those aspects of their dialysis under control. It makes me so proud of them!”
Enjoy Jessica's Zucchini Frittata for breakfast, lunch or dinner or bring a little bit of sunshine into your diet and try Jessica’s tasty Chicken Teriyaki Pita Sandwich. Both are delicious and fresh. Even better, pack a picnic with your family and friends and impress them with your tasty renal diet recipes from Jessica.