This week, I was happy to receive several copies of the Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation Journal which focused on diabetes. My colleague, the editor, had asked me to coordinate the issue and serve as a guest editor. It was a great project to work on and wonderful to see as a completed piece. I am incredibly proud of it and grateful to those who authored articles.
The articles in this issue cover: aging and diabetes, medications, healthy eating, physical activity/exercise prescription, the impact of diabetes-related complications on activity, vision rehabilitation, foot care, and common musculoskeletal disorders-all related to aging adults with diabetes.
While searching for authors and organizing the issue, I realized what expertise we have as diabetes educators! The knowledge we might take for granted is knowledge that other healthcare professionals might not have. We are diabetes experts!
What is an expert? The dictionary definition is “a person with special knowledge or ability,” or “someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technique or skill…in a specific domain” or “a person with extensive knowledge or ability based on research, experience, or occupation in a particular area of study.” Yes, we are diabetes experts!
I started teaching PT students a section on diabetes several years ago. I knew half of what I know now, but it was twice what others knew. Do you teach or lecture to healthcare professionals about diabetes care? If so, where and who do you teach? Think about teaching in your profession or crossing into others. Pharmacists can teach exercise professionals who can teach nurses who can teach pharmacists!
We are somewhat unique in how we work with people with diabetes, a chronic disease requiring much self-management. Think about what we do; the ideas of patient-centered care, self-empowerment, and use of motivational interviewing. Then, include the evidence-based standards of care we use.
Consider going into the community to share your knowledge of diabetes care. Offer your services. Knock on doors. Make phone calls. Write an article. Present hospital grand rounds. When we teach a patient, we help one person. When we teach a healthcare professional, we can impact hundreds of people with diabetes. And, teaching a group can impact thousands. We all know the staggering numbers of people with diabetes and pre-diabetes, and we can’t be there for all of them. I know it may be scary to think about doing this, but remember, you are the expert. So, share your knowledge and help many.
Share some ideas about teaching or writing you have done or thought about doing. Do you have fears? Reservations? Comment on them. Let’s work together to get more of us out there as diabetes experts, teaching healthcare professionals about diabetes care.