Kathleen Gold, RN, MSN, CDE, FAADE Why did you choose to become a diabetes educator?
Chair of AADE Advocacy Committee 2018
Past Chair, Virginia Diabetes Council
I was working as a homecare nurse and many of my patients had diabetes. I realized that I really didn’t have the knowledge to be able to assist them. There was a CDE working for my employer who was willing to mentor me, so I seized the opportunity. Now I am trying to pay that forward.
Tell us about your work experience in the field of diabetes education.
During my 20-year tenure at the Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation (DRWF), I operated a national diabetes helpline and spoke to individuals across the country about diabetes; also, I was the editor of the Diabetes Wellness News and engaged in many outreach activities, including a weekly diabetes clinic for the homeless population in Washington, DC. In 2010 I persuaded DRFW to launch a website, www.DiabetesLocal.org, which was given the AADE Innovative Use of Media and Technology Award in 2011. The purpose of the site was to inform individuals of reputable community resources to help them self-manage their diabetes. When I retired from DRWF, I convinced the foundation to give me the website rather than shut it down. With the assistance of my husband, a computer expert, we have kept DiabetesLocal.org up and running. Currently we are applying for non-profit status.
Since I was involved with the Virginia Diabetes Council as one of my outreach activities, upon my retirement I continued as Chair. In 2017 and 2018 the VDC received a large grant to promote DSMES and DPP. While Chair of the VDC, we created two workgroups, one for DPP and one for DSMES; I’ve mentored the DSMES group for the past 1.5 years. The VDC had been using DiabetesLocal.org as a resource since its inception, and the grant funding has enabled us to promote DSMES and DPP programs across the Commonwealth.
Describe your involvement with the DSMES work group.
The DSMES workgroup focused on two major projects – a marketing campaign to promote DSMES and a mentoring program for healthcare professionals and community health workers.
How did you approach marketing DSMES?
We designed ads for television, radio, and the internet (including Facebook) to promote DSMES (a 15-second ad https://youtu.be/gBIp9StG7EI, and a 30-second adhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UN-VJgvmR5c), which have been airing in different cities across Virginia. Also, we partnered with Facebook to show ads in specific Virginia cities, and targeted the over-40 population. We are looking at the ROI to determine if patients who viewed the ads subsequently followed up with a healthcare provider to request a referral. Also, we are relying on google analytics to track visits to DiabetesLocal.org and determine the effectiveness of the marketing campaign. So far we have seen a significant increase in the number of people visiting the site and accessing resources.
What is the scope of the mentoring program under the DSMES work group?
With the second project (a pilot program), we awarded AADE educational scholarships to healthcare professionals and assigned them a mentor to broaden their understanding of diabetes. The scholarships were for the AADE Career Path Certificate Program and the CORE Concepts® Course. Scholarships were awarded to 46 individuals from across the state and in a variety of professions (nurses, dietitians, physician assistants, pharmacists, case managers, health educators, and community and public health workers). I was excited to see that three scholarship recipients work in a practice which includes patients with gestational diabetes. We are hoping the participants will put their increased knowledge into practice and share it with colleagues – resulting in more and better services for individuals with diabetes. Our overall goal is to expand the diabetes workforce throughout Virginia and to increase the number of CDEs in our state.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
My work with the homeless population has provided the most rewards. I have had a clinic at the largest homeless shelter in the District of Columbia for over 20 years. These individuals are highly motivated patients, as many already possess the skills for behavior change, having dealt with substance abuse issues. They truly appreciate our time and the education they receive, and are very motivated to stay healthy. It is gratifying to watch the light bulb go off as they begin to understand the relationship of their blood glucose levels to the choices they are making.
AADE was my sounding board and source of information. The classes, annual meetings, and networking kept me current and ensured that I had the information I needed to care for my patients.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing diabetes educators today?
Marketing our services – while working for DRWF I would speak to individuals via the helpline from around the country. Many were unaware that diabetes educators even exist. We need to get the word out into the community and market our services. That is why our TV ads in Virginia have been so exciting and well received. We recognize that providers do not always refer, so we must promote the role and value of diabetes educators to the public so people will request a referral.
How has being an AADE member helped you treat patients?
The networking and support of my peers has been instrumental. Since I worked in an organization without any other health professionals, AADE was my sounding board and source of information. The classes, annual meetings, and networking kept me current and ensured that I had the information I needed to care for my patients.
Describe your best experience at AADE.
I have two! The first was receiving the AADE Innovative Use of Media and Technology Award in 2011. This validated my dream to provide local community resources for individuals with diabetes, and also allowed me to give back by providing a resource for CDE’s to utilize in their practices. The second was my recent appointment as Chair of the Advocacy Committee. I’ve been involved in a lot of advocacy work in the past since I live so close to DC. It is an honor now to be able to lead that team as we continue trying to educate lawmakers and regulators about the value of the services we provide. I look forward to engaging more of our members in the advocate role.
What are some of your interests outside of diabetes education?
I have six grandchildren with another one on the way, all under the age of six! Nothing is more rewarding than being a grandma. I also enjoy quilting and actually donated a quilt a number of years ago to be auctioned at an AADE meeting.
Based on your experience, what advice would you give to aspiring Diabetes Educators?
Think outside the box. No idea is too crazy or impossible. Go for your dream because you have the power to make a dream a reality.