Tabitha Nicholas, a 2006 family and consumer science graduate and 2009 health and human performance graduate of McNeese State University, is changing the lives of diabetes and kidney patients in Southwest Louisiana by providing critical nutrition care that can delay or prevent a patient’s need for dialysis.
As the 2020 Business Pitch Competition winner in the general business category, Nicholas received a $5,000 award and space in the McNeese SEED Center for her small business, Dietitians in Home, to bring virtual care or home visits to even more patients who can benefit from simple changes in their diet.
“As the dietetic and nutrition field grows pre-stage care becomes more common,” she explains. “Typically, dialysis patients would not see a nutritionist until they began treatment. It’s important for these patients to see a registered dietitian, but having this routine before dialysis can help prolong the patient’s life and save on the cost of care.”
Nicholas has partnered with local physicians to act as a resource and referral for patients who may benefit from regular visits with a registered dietitian. Each patient’s routine counseling is individualized and based on bloodwork results to help target crucial needs.
Patients or their families can also self-refer to Nicholas and most insurance is accepted. She is consistently creating new partnerships with local health care providers to grow her referral business.
Nicholas says it is often small changes in a patient’s diet that can have large impacts on one’s health. “We work with patients to lower their sodium intake, choose the right protein options, and through their bloodwork, we monitor things like potassium levels to make sure they are getting the right nutrients.”
Nicholas credits McNeese in providing her with an excellent education and a solid foundation to provide clinical care to her clients.
“I entered McNeese as an engineering major, but I love food and the dietetics program combined my interest in science and nutrition. The coursework and my professors truly prepared me for everything I’ve faced in my career from being an educator for clients and their families to managing the everyday task of owning a business.”
The SEED Center Business Pitch Competition is set for this fall.