Ann C. Scheufler, MS, RDN, CDE
Why did you choose to become a diabetes educator?
I sort of fell into the profession and then fell in love with it, actually. I speak Spanish and wanted to choose an area of dietetics where I could reach a Spanish-speaking population. Because diabetes is especially prevalent in this community, I chose to do my graduate research with the Kansas University Diabetes Institute. The graduate position turned into a full-time job as a dietitian and diabetes educator in their clinic after I graduated.
Once I experienced teaching classes and working with patients in an individual setting, I was hooked.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
The relationships and the problem solving.
I love listening to my patients’ journeys and allowing them to feel heard. Sometimes it’s the first time that a healthcare provider has had the time and the will to understand the patient point of view. Through these connections and foundations of trust, I’m able to meet patients at the stage of change they’re in and help them walk towards their goals. It’s so exciting to watch them achieve victories – small and large!
The pattern management of blood glucose levels and insulin dosing also completely fascinates me. I enjoy the challenge of helping patients achieve excellent blood glucose control when faced with a variety of different situations – whether it’s sports, pregnancy, or unique dietary patterns.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing diabetes educators today?
Unfortunately, I’m afraid healthcare policy is our biggest challenge. It frustrates me to no end that one of the driving factors behind medication choice is the type of health insurance a patient has and it saddens me that many people have less-than-optimal control because they must choose between food, medication or housing.
In addition, I believe that agriculture policy indirectly plays a large part in chronic disease in America. Because I was raised on a working farm in central Kansas, I understand some of the incentives for growing the cash crops – corn and soybeans, for example – that serve as fillers for highly processed food in the “typical American diet.” I am passionate about advocating for policies that encourage healthy, fresh produce to be affordable for all people.
How has being an AADE member helped you treat patients?
AADE has been a wealth of resources for me, especially when it comes to starting a new diabetes education program. I have encountered many questions and challenges with the process of billing insurance for our clinic, so having the FAQs and a go-to person who is willing to answer my phone calls has been invaluable!
What are some of your interests outside of diabetes education?
Outside of my day job, I write a blog called Peas and Hoppiness (find me at peasandhoppiness.com). I share favorite recipes, provide nutrition information, and write about modern day American agriculture as I pass on my experience of growing up on a farm where my parents still live.
My favorite activity for a Friday night is filling my home with my favorite people to cook, eat, and share life together. I enjoy hiking in the Rocky Mountains (it’s a vacation every weekend for this Kansas girl!), rock-climbing and learning yoga. I’m currently training for my second half-marathon and I play clarinet in a local community band. Outside of diabetes education, I love living life to the fullest. Can you tell?