Daniel from Nevada had very personal reasons for becoming a dietitian. He shares his story, “After four years in the Navy, I decided to venture into the medical field because at the time, I believed it was the smartest career choice. I initially enrolled into a four-year nursing program and while in nursing school, my mother had a heart attack, which thankfully she survived. After that eye-opening incident, and the fact that I had been diagnosed with high blood pressure at an early age, I realized that I needed and wanted to focus my attention on improving my family’s health. I began to recognize the correlation of our food choices and their consequences on our overall health.”
It seems the renal field found Daniel, after a position for a renal transplant dietitian became available at the hospital where he was working. Daniel shares, “I chose to take on the role even though I had little knowledge of the area, but the more I learned about renal disease and its prevalence, the more I wanted to do for this population and ideally help prevent kidney failure within my family. I enjoyed my role as the renal transplant dietitian, but felt I needed to learn more about dialysis. I believed I could be a great resource for dialysis patients interested in kidney transplant, so I joined DaVita.
Some of the challenges Daniel has found working with dialysis patients are trying to improve long established diet habits and working with the American diet, which is so processed, with food altered from its natural state. Daniel believes that the single most important thing patients can do to improve their health is to "eat less processed food.”
Because renal dietitians see their patients on a regular basis, Daniel takes that as an opportunity to get to know his patients. He says, “My approach is to treat them as if they were my family. I take time to listen and chat about everyday life, while promoting a healthier lifestyle and providing guidance on making better food choices on dialysis. I enjoy seeing my patients laugh and smile often.” Daniel is most rewarded when patients show appreciation of his efforts in improving their health, nutritional lab values and their morale.
In addition to his patients, Daniel appreciates his teammates. When asked what makes his DaVita team special, he jokes, “Besides the fact that I work with them?!” Then adds, “We’re team driven, specialized and we all know how to work hard and still have fun.”
DaVita has also provided personal opportunities for Daniel to push himself. “Last year was my first year with DaVita. I decided I needed a challenge to see how out of shape I was so I signed up for the Tour DaVita 240-mile bike ride in Iowa. I had not ridden a bicycle in years or for that many miles—much less a bike with such skinny tires.” While Daniel only got in two trainings for about 20 miles before the ride, he successfully completed his first bicycle tour. “I wanted to give up quite a few times during the ride, but I kept pushing on as I was determined to finish. I rode not only for myself, but also for all of my sponsors, family members and my patients. I wanted to be able to return after this experience and share how my will and determination kept me pushing forward, one pedal at a time. I wanted everyone I knew to do the same. For me, this was truly a great accomplishment,” stated Daniel.
Enjoy your own accomplishment in the kitchen by preparing this special recipe for Spicy Seafood Étouffée by Daniel from Nevada. You deserve a little spice in your life and Daniel delivers with this aromatic dish that will delight all of your senses, especially your taste buds.