by Matthew J. Naliborski RD, CSOWM, LDN, CDE
I want to extend my gratitude to the AADE Education and Research Foundation for providing a scholarship for me to attend the Friends for Life conference hosted by Children with Diabetes.
Attending the conference was an invaluable experience — personally, professionally and socially. Having the opportunity to converse, observe and at times, simply hang out with the conference group is something I feel all individuals connected to the diabetes community would benefit from! As healthcare professionals we often only capture snapshots of the lives of the individuals we work with. We assess two weeks of blood glucose values. We operate in a controlled clinic setting routinely once every three months. The chance to interact with individuals and family members of those with diabetes outside of the clinic was transformative. Attending the conference changed my outlook and approach to many aspects of diabetes care.
One concept that stood out was the use of language in diabetes care and education. It is well established that diabetes is a complex condition that presents unique challenges on a daily basis. Families at the conference offered insight, recommendations and personal stories of such challenges. There is an abundance of recent discussion about how to communicate effectively and interact with those living with diabetes. The conference offered the chance to strengthen this critical counseling skill.
The second concept that resonated with me was fostering an emphasis on collaborative and shared decision making between the healthcare provider and the individual with diabetes. The way healthcare professionals interact with people who have diabetes can promote or discourage engagement and a collaborative relationship. Respectful and trusting relationships is integral to diabetes care. Most importantly, the real-world experience at the conference provided insight to help me practice using empathy skills. I continue to share my experience with colleagues and others I interact with.
I strongly suggest that any individual in the diabetes community attend the conference. As a Certified Diabetes Educator, I feel the interaction between disciplines is remarkably valuable as we carry back what we've learned in our respective day-to-day activities. I feel it will also help strengthen the bonds that multidisciplinary practices see between physicians, CDEs and others in the field. The conference education sessions provided pertinent and up to date information in many areas of care including advocacy, legislation, research, technology, nutrition therapy, education and social support. The breakout group sessions provided real world learning experiences with families, children and other conference attendees.
I look forward to attending future events and can’t wait to return to Friends for Life.