We are in the home stretch…I am currently in my final rotation: Riderwood for Food Service!! Before I started Riderwood this past week, I spent time at a couple DaVita clinics, where patients receive hemodialysis treatments (and occasionally some peritoneal dialysis patients come in too). The dietitians are so well respected there because nutrition has such an important impact on dialysis patients’ health.
The thing I love about renal nutrition is the complexity of it. Phosphorous, protein (albumin), calcium, iron, vitamin D, parathyroid hormone (PTH), potassium, and sodium must be carefully monitored, and they often have an effect on each other. Because the kidney’s don’t work correctly, they cannot regulate these levels (such as getting rid of excess electrolytes in urine, or protein being taken out of the body during dialysis) like a healthy person can. This can be very dangerous! And at DaVita, dietitians work directly with correcting lab values through proper diet and even medication. Another great thing about working in dialysis? You get a clinical point of view, but develop long-term relationships with your patients. Getting to know the people I’m helping and seeing them improve over time would be so rewarding!
My partner Ala and I handed out samples of a protein drink and discussed the importance of adequate protein and albumin levels. We also conducted a few individual assessments and went over lab value “report cards” with patients during their treatments. Our preceptor Leah was very helpful in explaining all the ins and outs (pun intended 😉 ) of dialysis and its nutritional concerns.