Dietitian, Educator and Author Is Proudest of Working With CKD Patients for Nearly Two Decades


August 22, 2006

Karen Wiesen would be the perfect poster person for renal dietitians everywhere, though the modest 50-year-old educator and author would never accept such a designation. But let’s listen to Wiesen describe her work and decide for ourselves, shall we?

“Most dietitians either like or dislike working with kidney patients -- there is no in-between -- because it’s so complicated,” says Wiesen, who has spent the past 17 years of a nearly three decade career as a dietitian working with chronic kidney disease patients. “Kidney patients often have five or six different health issues you have to address from medication consequences to hypertension to diabetes. Which is exactly why I love it. It’s never boring. You wear so many hats, including dietitian, teacher, social worker, investigator, cheerleader, even a little bit nurse!”

Wiesen works full time as a renal dietitian for Barnes-Jewish Dialysis Center at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, teaches student interns and has co-edited a textbook, “A Clinical Guide to Nutrition Care in Kidney Diseases,” a joint project of the NKF’s Council on Renal Nutrition (CRN) and the American Dietetic Association. The book was the result of Wiesen’s involvement with the NKF for many years, including as an associate chair of CRN and editor of the NKF’s newsletter for allied health professionals, Renalink. She has just finished writing a chapter for another book, “Nutrition and Kidney Disease,” to be published later this year. Oh yes, and she participates in panels and conferences, where every now and again she is rewarded when a former intern, who reports that training with Wiesen five, 10, even 15 years ago, convinced the then-student to become a renal dietitian. “I actually do have some converts to renal dietetics,” Wiesen says with a smile.