As part of my job, I am an adjunct professor in the doctor of physical therapy (DPT) program. Last week, I taught the diabetes section in differential diagnosis. I asked the students to raise their hand if they knew about the profession of diabetes educator before they met me. Only a few raised a hand. I enjoy the opportunity to teach in the DPT program and especially love increasing awareness of our profession as diabetes educators (DEs). There are 32 students in the class that now know what a DE is, what we can offer, and a few interested in becoming a DE in the future! This week, I was asked to do a presentation on diabetes and osteoporosis at the American Physical Therapy Associations’ annual meeting next year. This is an opportunity to tell hundreds of PTs about DEs. Of course, I said “yes.”
We know how important it is to participate in the care of an individual with diabetes. Yet, we are underutilized. Sure, we have a shortage of diabetes educators, if everyone with diabetes receives education. But they don’t. We, as DEs, can all help to increase awareness of our profession and what we offer.
Who needs to know about us? People with diabetes (PWD) and those affected by diabetes, referring providers, other non-referring healthcare professionals, the Diabetes Online Community (DOC), politicians at the state and national level, those in government agencies that can impact diabetes care, insurance companies (including Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services), industries that deal with diabetes products, and the general public. Who did I forget?
Let’s look at each of these. It is a two way street for PWD, those affected by diabetes, the DOC, and the general public. People in these groups can benefit from interactions with a DE. And, DEs can also benefit when these individuals spread the word about what we can offer. I think about how pharmaceutical advertising has changed prescribing of medications. Many more people go to a healthcare provider’s visit with knowledge about medications and initiate the conversation about prescribing the medication based on advertising. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more PWD went to their provider asking to be referred for diabetes education?
We all know that diabetes education can take more time than is practical for most healthcare providers. DEs can help primary care providers and specialists by spending the necessary time, and using our expertise, when working with a PWD. During my time with patients, I often suggest referral to other providers. There are many professionals that should know about DEs to suggest referral to diabetes education.
How about politicians? We have legislation we want to move forward. State and national politicians need to hear about DEs and the great work we do! When we make a visit or call or email or tweet, we want those involved in the legislative process to say, “Oh, yes, I know how helpful diabetes educators can be for an individual, for my constituents.”
Those that are involved with reimbursement should know how DEs can improve the life of a PWD and that we are quite cost-effective. And, we should be part of the conversation when those in the diabetes products industry are making decisions.
How can we get the word out? Do you have interactions that can promote our profession? Let’s get into the conversation, at the table, in the minds of all PWD, providers, and those who can impact diabetes care and reimbursement.