Guest blogger Michelle Litchman, PhD, FNP-BC is a family nurse practitioner and research scientist specializing in diabetes care in Salt Lake City, UT. She has developed several innovative programs to improve quality of care and expand peer health in her community, including diabetes group visits and the highly acclaimed Diabetes Mixer.
ave you ever been in a position where you wished two of your patients could connect to support one another? What did you do about it? In 2011, I provided care for two 19-year old female patients with type 1 diabetes; they needed help, and more than I could offer in the clinic. These young girls were too old to attend diabetes camp, yet still in a position where they needed peer support.
Sensitive to HIPAA guidelines, but determined to make a difference, care manager MJ Tran and I racked our brains to find a way to allow our adult patients with type 1 diabetes to support one another. We wanted the event to be fun, but informative. The best option we came up with was to throw a party, a Diabetes Mixer. This event is now in its fifth year and gaining momentum.
Diabetes Mixer Planning Committee
The Diabetes Mixer is a social networking event for adults with type 1 diabetes to meet, engage and connect over shared experiences in a non-clinical setting. Attendees learn from each other (peer health), diabetes-related vendors and guest speakers. Past guest speakers have included diabetes social media guru, Mike Lawson; slam poet, Ginger Vieira; comedian, Chelcie Rice; professional snowboarder, Sean Busby; and patient advocate, Cherise Shockley.
Research indicates that peer support in diabetes care is helpful, however, we aren’t creating enough opportunities for peers to meet.
Held at various local restaurants, the CDE members of the Diabetes Mixer committee work closely with the chefs to provide accurate carbohydrate counts for the food provided. Attendees travel from all regions of Utah, and even Southern Idaho, to attend this one-of-a-kind event.
Over the years, the Diabetes Mixer has had several stakeholders, including the Utah Health Department, local hospitals and clinics, Utah Nurse Practitioners, Diabetic Connect: Alliance Health, Sigma Theta Tau International Gamma Rho Chapter; and our partner, Diabetes Community Advocacy Foundation. Still unsure of what the Diabetes Mixer is about? Check out this short video clip.
Diabetes Mixer Swag Bags
Research indicates that peer support in diabetes care is helpful, however, we aren’t creating enough opportunities for peers to meet. While Kim Vlasnik eloquently discussed the support she was able to receive online during her Ignite talk at MedXin 2014, there is something special about being able to meet someone face-to-face, with whom you share a common bond. There are several ways in which peer health can occur, including diabetes group visits seen in clinical settings; patient-led initiatives found on social media or small meet-up groups such as the Delinquent Pancreas Club; and finally, non-clinical ways to support face-to-face peer health, such as the Diabetes Mixer. If you would like learn more about the Diabetes Mixer, please contact Michelle Litchman, PhD, FNP.