Dip is a perennial party favorite, and when it’s baked Buffalo Chicken Dip, it’s bound to be a hit with your family and guests. DaVita renal dietitian Sarah from Missouri adapted this recipe to be kidney-friendly so even those with renal problems can dip into its smooth yet spicy goodness.
Sarah is from Columbia, Missouri, and attended the University of Missouri. “I didn’t know what a dietitian was until I was a sophomore in college,” Sarah remembers. “Originally I was a double major with psychology and nutrition. I was teaching an aquacize class, and one of the participants was a dietitian and she told me it was the way to go if I was interested in nutrition and psychology. I haven’t looked back since.”
Her decision to work in the renal field came later. “It happened by chance,” explains Sarah. “I was working with a friend who worked at DaVita, and she told me she thought I would like renal. There was a position open, and I applied.”
When asked about the most challenging aspect of her job, Sarah replies, “Getting people to understand how important it is to follow a kidney-friendly diet. People can’t necessarily feel calcification happening or high potassium until it’s too late.”
When asked about her approach to working with patients, Sarah says, “First and foremost, I think it is important to get to know the patient. Once that relationship is built, we can then talk about their diet.”
Sarah makes a difference in patients’ lives by showing that she cares. “Sometimes the best thing I can do as a dietitian is to listen to the patients,” she says. “Although they spend a good portion of time at dialysis, they have a life outside of DaVita. It is important that the patient knows I care about them and what is happening in their life, not just about what they are eating. I really enjoy getting to know my patients.”
This renal dietitian understands the far-reaching changes that can come about because of her work with those on dialysis. “My favorite part of my job is getting a new patient and educating them about their diet and what their labs mean. Dialysis is the only field I’ve been involved in where diet has an immediate effect that can be seen in laboratory values and also helps a patient feel better,” Sarah explains. “New patients usually aren’t feeling well and are scared to be on dialysis. After teaching them about their diet and getting their labs in range, they start to feel a lot better! It is rewarding to see all that hard work pay off in diet education when the patient says, ‘I’m finally feeling better and dialysis isn’t as scary as I thought it was.’”
“The single most important thing patients can do to improve their health is to listen to your dietitian,” Sarah declares.
As part of her goal to educate patients, Sarah likes to keep them motivated to eat a kidney-friendly diet. “My patients love it when I make them snacks to sample,” Sarah says. “I like to prepare recipes from the DaVita recipe website. Many will be inspired to try it at home.”
A newbie with DaVita, Sarah started with the company a little over one year ago, but expects to have a long career with DaVita. She especially appreciates the on-going relationships she has with her patients. “I really enjoy the fact that I can get to know my patients,” says Sarah. “Working in a clinical setting, you have one to two interactions with patients and then they leave. With dialysis patients, I really have a chance to get to know all my patients and have an impact on them.”
Sarah tells us that the most surprising thing she’s learned since she started working at DaVita is “How important your kidneys are! They help regulate just about everything in your body. I learned this in school, but seeing it first-hand shocked me.”
Sarah works at the DaVita clinic in Grandview, Missouri. “We are a brand new clinic, and patients really enjoy the newness,” Sarah reports. “They like that it is new and fresh. And I think our clinic’s also special because all of the patients we have are very nice and friendly.”
Although being a renal dietitian can be challenging, the cooperative atmosphere at the Grandview clinic means that Sarah can look forward to coming to work. “I work with a great team; they really care about our patients and their health and well-being,” Sarah asserts. “I love coming to work every day. The team is really fun to work with, which makes my job more enjoyable.”
The next time you’re looking for an appetizer to serve at home or at your place of work, remember Sarah’s kidney-friendly recipe for Buffalo Chicken Dip. It’s so easy to bake it up at home and then keep warm in a Crock-Pot. Serve with crudités and enjoy!