DaVita renal dietitian Lisa Br. from New York shares a recipe for pork chops that is flavorful, moist and kidney-friendly too. Her Balsamic Pork Chops begin with chops that are coated in a mixture of balsamic vinegar and rosemary, thyme, pepper and garlic powder. Marinate the chops for 10 to 15 minutes, and then they’re ready to be pan-fried. Once they’re cooked, the chops are removed from the pan, and the remaining juices become a base for sautéing onions and mushrooms. When your dinner companions dig into the juicy chops smothered in the sautéed onion and mushroom mixture, you’ll be sure to receive rave reviews! And even those following the kidney diet can partake without guilt of this hearty entrée.
A native of Buffalo, New York, Lisa first became interested in dietetics when her father suggested it as a career path. “I became a dietitian at my dad’s encouragement. He had worked as a hospital food service director for many years and was impressed with dietitians and the impact they had on their patients’ health and well-being,” Lisa explains. “When I was unsure of which direction my career in health care should take, my dad suggested I look into the dietetics program at our local state college, and I took his advice. The rest, as they say, is history!”
Once enrolled at the State University of New York, College at Buffalo, Lisa discovered renal dietetics. “I was first attracted to renal dietetics during my time as a student. I loved the idea of having the opportunity to really get to know my patients,” Lisa remembers. “Especially appealing to me was the opportunity to see people benefit from my intervention. I am also a math and science geek, so renal dietetics definitely satisfies that tendency as well.”
Today Lisa works at the DaVita center in Hamburg, New York. When asked about the challenges of her job, she replies, “Most challenging is watching patients struggle with adherence and not being able to do it for them. Everyone comes to accept lifestyle changes in their own time, and I sometimes get frustrated when I see someone who is not quite there yet. I tend to want to get them to their highest level of adherence as quickly as possible, but I have learned over the years that everyone gets there in their own time. My job is to make sure that they have all of the education, help and support they need to be successful.”
“I try to understand where patients are coming from. I always try to remember how I would want a member of my family to be treated if they needed a chronic therapy like dialysis,” Lisa says. “Also, I always try to remember that every patient is someone’s mother, father, son, daughter, etc. I feel it’s very important to personalize things or else we lose sight of the importance of what we’re doing.”
When asked about the single most important thing patients can do to improve their health, she replies, “I would say that attending all dialysis treatments and staying for the full prescribed treatment time is definitely extremely important. Also, catheter removal is absolutely crucial.”
In spite of the challenges of being a renal dietitian, Lisa brings her positive energy to work every day and shares it with her patients. “I hope I make a difference by providing an empathetic ear and as much support and education as they need,” she says. “Perhaps more importantly, I like to try to make my patients laugh as much as possible.”
DaVita dietitian Lisa likes to remain focused on the positive. “I always try to find the positive in the patient’s monthly lab report,” says Lisa. “There is always something I can highlight as an improvement or a good show of effort on the patient’s part. I feel like it is so important to do this so that people are more open to education and don’t feel like I am always the bearer of bad news.”
“The most rewarding aspect of my job is that ‘light-bulb moment’ when someone who has been struggling reaches their goal and feels better because of it,” states Lisa.
In the final analysis, it’s all about people. “I enjoy forging relationships with my patients and their families most,” remarks Lisa. “The connection to other people is what makes it worthwhile.”
Lisa recounts a story of connecting with a patient named Joan: “I remember many years ago, when I first started working in the dialysis unit, I had a patient who was struggling with phosphorus control. Unfortunately, we had a soda machine right in the lobby that sold Pepsi. One day, I was walking by, and this patient was right in the middle of getting a Pepsi from the machine. In a moment of sheer exasperation, I said to the patient, “Oh, Joan. You know Pepsi is high in phosphorus, and it’s not the best choice for you. What am I going to do with you?” She looked up at me without missing a beat and said, “Love me for who I am?” Needless to say, we both laughed hysterically. It was a good moment, because it broke the ice between us, and it taught me a very important lesson in the meantime.”
A DaVita renal dietitian for almost 12 years, Lisa appreciates the way the company treats their dietitians. “I enjoy all of the support and respect we dietitians receive,” Lisa states. “Unfortunately, in much of health care, dietitians are underestimated and undervalued. This couldn’t be further from the truth within DaVita, and I am so thankful to be working for an organization that values dietitians.”
When asked what is the most surprising or interesting thing she’s learned since coming to work at DaVita, Lisa paused before answering, “Oh goodness…I’ve learned so much, I couldn’t even begin to choose one thing. I will say this, I learn each and every day, and I feel like when I stop learning, I will know my work here is done!”
What makes the Hamburg, New York, DaVita dialysis center special? “The Team!!” Lisa replies without hesitation. “We have the most outstanding group of teammates who genuinely care about our patients and each other. It’s an honor to work with them each day.”
The location is great too. “It is a beautiful new clinic that I was brought into as it first opened,” explains Lisa. “It has been great to be a part of it from the start and to see the census build and new teammates come on board.”
The next time you’re looking for a kidney-friendly meat entrée that the whole gang will love, remember Lisa’s Balsamic Pork Chops. They’re hearty enough for the biggest appetite, juicy enough for the hard-to-please diner and healthy enough for those on the dialysis diet.
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