News & Publications

Advocacy: Find Your Niche!

GettyImages-520180218_850x420

by Carla Cox, PhD, RD, CDE, CSSD, FAADE, CPT | Mar 13, 2018

ad·vo·cate

A person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.

Ex: "He was an untiring advocate of economic reform."

Synonyms: champion, upholder, supporter, backer, promoter, proponent, exponent, spokesman, spokeswoman, spokesperson, campaigner, fighter, crusader


I keep getting these advocacy alerts – and sometimes it drives me nuts! I dislike state and federal politics and find it difficult to engage in these discussions, as I often run counter to the causes for which I am asked to advocate. Some folks love that part of their lives, not me.

So when I review the role of the advocate, I consider my own practice and the lives of those I work with on an ongoing basis and realize there are a lot of ways to be an advocate for those with diabetes. I see people who are doing well on their medication regimen and are sent a note that their medication is no longer covered by their insurance. I see those who now can obtain a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) but Medicare has decided the communication to the cell phone is disallowed, preventing their loved ones from having access to the data and perhaps protecting them from a severe hypoglycemic reaction. I see children heading to school with resistance from the school administrator to sign a 504 plan to enhance the child’s management at school; and I hear stories of people with diabetes being discouraged from checking their blood glucose at work even when they feel there is a significant risk of hypoglycemia.


We are all in a position to advocate in some way for people with diabetes.


The February 2018 issue of The Diabetes Educator has an article on becoming involved in advocating for the patient on formulary committees, titled "The Role of the Diabetes Educator in Diabetes Formulary and Medical Device Decisions.” So often, the individuals making decisions seem to be devoid of any knowledge of diabetes and the needs of the patient. The ADA has a safe at school plan, as do many states.

As educators, we can listen to parents and school children about how they interact with the school environment, and then offer to visit with the school if needed to be an advocate for a child with diabetes.

I contacted one of my favorite ADA advocates and asked her to provide a list of ways to get involved in the world of advocacy. Here are some of her ideas!

  • Public messages like a letter to the editor
  • Social media
  • Building grassroots effort and educating others
  • Educating policy makers
  • One-on-one meetings 

And if you like the political side of things – check out these resources:

We are all in a position to advocate in some way for people with diabetes. Embrace the opportunity as it will make a difference in the lives of those with whom we work with every day.


Carla Cox

About the Author:

Carla Cox is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. She has been a certified diabetes educator for over 25 years, and served as an assistant adjunct professor for 14 years, teaching in areas of sports nutrition and exercise physiology. Currently she works in Missoula, Montana as a diabetes educator in both in- and outpatient settings.

View Bio & Previous Posts

In This Section

News & Publications