Guest blogger, Katie Doyle, is a frequent contributor to the AADE blog, and producer of the documentary short, Every Way Possible.
This story behind the story began at the 2015 World Diabetes Congress in Vancouver, where I learned about the projects my fellow Young Leaders in Diabetes were developing: camps for kids with diabetes, handouts for new college students, World Diabetes Day events and activities, nonprofits, networks, and more. Many of my colleagues came from countries with few available resources for people with diabetes, and little, if any, diabetes education. When I thought about how my project could benefit AADE members in the United States, my challenge became: What can I contribute in a country that has everything?
There are about 30 million people living with diabetes in the United States, and there are also top-notch educational programs, medical facilities, and funding for resources to help healthcare professionals work successfully to educate and empower people with all types of diabetes. AADE members have access to all of these things, so I carefully narrowed down what I could give all of you and how I could channel my unique perspective as a person living with diabetes and working with diabetes educators as part of my healthcare team.
I found an answer in storytelling. I have had type 1 diabetes for 14 years, and connecting with my diabetes care team has always been a curiosity of mine. What motivates CDEs to do their jobs every day? Who are they outside of the doctor's office? How do their personal experiences and health challenges flavor their relationships with patients? These questions helped shape my approach to the project.
What motivates CDEs to do their jobs every day? Who are they outside of the doctor's office? How do their personal experiences and health challenges flavor their relationships with patients?
For the past two years, I have been developing this short documentary project to explore how diabetes educators can provide culturally competent care to the diverse population we have here in America. Producing this documentary has allowed me to connect with AADE members from Chicago, Boston, New York City, and more - and it's given me countless opportunities to share my experiences and hear their stories, resulting in understanding and respect on both sides. I developed a survey that was released last winter, and those who responded were interviewed in December and January. The story that best fit the project came from Tatiana, a registered nurse working in Schenectady, NY, which happens to be in the same area of upstate New York that I come from.
It was a pleasure getting to know Tatiana and Hema, a patient she worked with as a CDE and a Chronic Case Manager. We became close as we shot the story over a few days spread out over the first half of 2017. In order to tell the sides of the story that needed to be told, we shot in locations like downtown Schenectady, at an Ellis Hospital building, Tatiana's house, and a hair salon. After shooting wrapped up, I transcribed the interviews, edited the footage, and worked with the AADE to refine the story and to ensure that it aligned with the goals we set out to achieve. And voila — a documentary was made.
It’s my hope that as you watch, you think about how you can use something from within yourself to connect with your patients, some of whom might seem very different from you, and others who might not seem so different. I also hope you’re inspired by the apparent joy Tatiana gets from her job and motivated by the bond between Tatiana and Hema. The beauty of storytelling, though, is that no matter what my hopes are, each story reaches each person a little differently. You may walk away wondering about or thinking about another thing altogether. As long as watching the documentary makes you think or affects you in some way, then I’ve done my job.
About the Author:
Guest blogger, Katie Doyle, is a freelance writer and media producer who has lived with type 1 diabetes since 2003. Some of her favorite projects have involved telling stories about adventure, travel, and other aspects of life with diabetes. As a guest writer and video producer for the AADE blog, Katie has written about international diabetes education, packing for trips, relationships between diabetes clinics and persons with diabetes, and what it's like to be a college student with diabetes. Her writing has also appeared in AADE: In Practice.