AADE has a new Vision, Project Vision: Shaping the Future of Our Specialty. It is the result of a multi-phase process that was carried out from late 2017 through 2018. We worked with a consulting firm that started with research involving many key stakeholders (including representatives from our AADE members, people with diabetes, sister organizations, referring providers, and payors). From this research, the board of directors and staff created the Vision. If you haven’t had a chance to learn about it, please follow this link to get an overview, read through frequently asked questions, and listen to a webinar.
There are six key strategies to support the Vision, but I’d like to highlight the integration of cardiometabolic and related conditions in this blog. One thing that came out of the research for the Vision was that we, as diabetes educators, do much more than “education.” If you think about our interactions with a person with diabetes (PWD), we do a comprehensive assessment, including a health history and current issues, before creating an individualized plan. Within this process, we need to take into account any cardiometabolic conditions and conditions related to diabetes including acute and chronic complications. Then, as we work with the individual to set goals and carry out interventions, all aspects of physical and emotional health need to be considered.
As a physical therapist and certified diabetes educator, my focus is on physical activity and exercise recommendations. Can you imagine working with a PWD to create an individualized exercise plan without taking cardiovascular status, presence of neuropathy/retinopathy/nephropathy, or history of hypoglycemia into account? From a comprehensive evaluation, we can work with a PWD to create a personalized exercise plan, an individualized meal plan, schedules for blood glucose checks, strategies for medication management, and emotional/socioeconomic support.
It is so important that we clearly describe what we do to provide person-centered, individualized, holistic care. This will help referring providers, people with diabetes, payors, and others know the key components to our process.
Our primary healthcare profession, scope of practice (based on professional and state regulations) and experience will drive how we integrate cardiometabolic and related conditions
. For example, many of us could provide basic nutrition information but would refer to a registered dietitian if the PWD has kidney disease; medication management would be provided only if this is in our scope of practice; counseling for a PWD dealing with emotional challenges is likely best provided by a behavioral health specialist; and exercise recommendations for a PWD and heart disease or pain would be best provided by an exercise professional. In these cases, integration would involve a referral to the most appropriate provider for the individual.
Though integration of cardiometabolic and related conditions is part of our new Vision for the Specialty, it is really something that we have done all along. We need to be sure that others know this. It is so important that we clearly describe what we do to provide person-centered, individualized, holistic care. This will help referring providers, people with diabetes, payors, and others know the key components to our process. We need to let others, especially colleagues and referring providers, know that we do so much more than “education” when we interact with a PWD. Here are three easy actionable steps educators can take to do this:
1. Create a post on social media
Posting about your experience providing integrated care on your social media account is a quick and concise way to convey the message to your network.
2. Write a blog post or create online content
If you have access to a website or other public digital platform, use it to share specific examples of how you provide holistic care in your practice. The message will create awareness and inspire educators in similar fields to do the same. Don’t have a platform? The AADE Blog is always looking for submissions from guest bloggers.
3. Make colleagues and referring providers aware
We should be deliberate in explaining all we do. This could be done informally by talking to the providers, highlighting this information in patient communications, and even through in-services/presentations.
Let’s get the word out that we provide comprehensive care with the inclusion of cardiometabolic and related conditions when we work with an individual with diabetes.
About the Author
AADE President-elect Karen Kemmis is a physical therapist and certified diabetes educator, and also holds certifications in Pilates for rehabilitation and exercise for aging adults. She is based out of SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY and splits her time between a Joslin Diabetes Center affiliate, an outpatient rehabilitation department, and a PT program where she is an adjunct professor.
View Bio & Previous Posts