By: Guest Blogger, Jasmine Gonzalvo, PharmD, BCPS, BC-ADM, CDE, LDE
My journey to becoming a diabetes educator started when I entered pharmacy school at Butler University in 1999. I pursued a career in pharmacy because I liked high school chemistry and I didn’t want to become a chemical engineer – admittedly, not the best reasons to go to pharmacy school. I struggled through pharmacy school, got terrible grades, and almost dropped out to pursue a career as a Spanish teacher. I eventually graduated with my Doctorate of Pharmacy degree in 2005.
I didn’t realize I my passion for diabetes until I had one of my experiential rotations at a diabetes camp, where I served as a camp counselor to a group of young boys. Up to that point, I had never felt invested in any specific pharmacy career and I had no idea what I was going to do after graduation. At camp, I was responsible for checking blood glucoses, adjusting insulin doses, and administering insulin injections. Working with those boys, watching some of them adeptly work their insulin pumps and count carbs, helping them through lows, and seeing their vibrant energy was my first realization that I enjoyed working with people with diabetes.
My next rotation was with a faculty member who practiced in a primary care clinic, counseling people with chronic conditions. At the end of the rotation, I told her I wanted a career like hers and asked what I needed to do to be adequately trained. She encouraged me to do a residency— which sounded awful to me. Despite my apprehensions, I begrudgingly went through the process of applying for residencies because I felt so strongly that I should be a clinical faculty member practicing in a primary care clinic. Thankfully, I matched with my first choice of residency sites at the Indianapolis VA Medical Center, which was also affiliated with Purdue University.
“Believe that with your feelings and your work you are taking part in the greatest; the more strongly you cultivate this belief, the more will reality and the world go forth from it.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke
After completing my first year of residency, I interviewed for a couple of clinical faculty positions. My residency director also decided to create a specialized 2nd year Ambulatory Care/Academia residency program at that time. Long story short, I opted to complete the new specialized residency and was eventually offered a clinical faculty position with Purdue University and Eskenazi Health in 2007. Clinically, I would be helping to start up a new pharmacist-managed Cardiovascular Risk Reduction clinic in one of the satellite outpatient clinics. My service would operate under a collaborative practice agreement where the providers would refer patients with diabetes and high cardiovascular risk to my service for management of medications and labs related to diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, smoking cessation, and immunizations.
I obtained my Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist (BCPS) credential in 2008, my Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) credential in 2009, and my Board Certified-Advanced Diabetes Management (BC-ADM) credential in 2011. Fast forward to 2017 – I’ve been practicing in the same primary care clinic since 2007 and have expanded my services to a primary care clinic in a patient population with serious mental illness.
Throughout my career, I’ve maintained involvement with a variety of nonprofit organizations. Early on, I made a couple of trips to Ecuador with Timmy Global Health and helped with the pharmacy operations. After getting married and having kids, my focus shifted more towards local and regional service. I started getting involved with AADE in 2011 with the Favorably Reviewed Committee and later as a BC-ADM exam item reviewer in 2014. In 2014, I was appointed to the Credentials Committee with the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE). In 2015, I decided to pursue a position on the Board of Directors for AADE. I felt lucky to get on the ballot and was over-the-moon when I was elected.
Don’t sell yourself short—you change lives every day! You can do great things.
I never could have imagined the impact that my experience on the AADE Board would have on my life. I have gained invaluable professional leadership experience, met some of the most reputable experts in our field, provided input on important organizational decisions, been presented with countless opportunities, and developed incredible, lifelong friendships. I’ve consistently been impressed with the quality of leadership at AADE and the tenacious spirit of our members. This month, my term on the board comes to an end. I’m hoping to stay very involved with AADE through my work on the Nominating Committee, spokesperson opportunities, and several advocacy initiatives.
From my experience, I’ve gained a few nuggets of wisdom worth mentioning:
- Getting involved with diabetes-related nonprofit organizations can be very rewarding
- Don’t sell yourself short— you change lives every day! You can do great things!
- When you’re involved with a committee, do your best work and establish yourself as hard-working, reliable, knowledgeable, responsive, and friendly
- Lift up and support those around you (especially women!)
- Keep patients with diabetes as the inspiration for your work
Pharmacists have amazing opportunities as diabetes educators. We possess in-depth medication knowledge, collaborate with a variety of healthcare professionals, and interact with individuals with diabetes across a variety of settings. Pharmacists are learning earlier and earlier about their diabetes-related professional opportunities.
We’ve seen consistent growth in the number of pharmacist CDEs and BC-ADMs. Pharmacists have served in key leadership positions, including Nancy D’Hondt, PharmD as 2017 President of AADE, and Tommy Johnson, PharmD, CDE, BC-ADM, FAADE as 2016 Chair of NCBDE. There are so many more examples of pharmacists who have stepped up to lead in diabetes organizations. I’m encouraged to see more and more of us at the table and contributing to important discussions. I love to hear supportive comments from other interdisciplinary diabetes educators about the fabulous pharmacists with whom they work.
Happy National Diabetes Education Week!
About the Author:
Guest blogger, Jasmine Gonzalvo, PharmD, BCPS, BC-ADM, CDE, LDE, is Clinical Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice, College of Pharmacy, Purdue University. Her clinical practice for Eskenazi Health involves provision of Cardiovascular Risk Reduction services operating under a collaborative practice agreement in a primary care clinic and in a population with serious mental illness. Dr. Gonzalvo’s research interests and publications relate to cardiovascular risk reduction in individuals with serious mental illness, integration of the Spanish language into her practice and academic settings, and diabetes self-management education in the pharmacy setting.