By Gary Scheiner MS, CDCES
The pandemic has been a scourge for the ages. But crawling out from under the toxic mess have been three important positive changes to the way we serve the diabetes community:
1) New and much better medications (such as GLP/GIP combination drugs) and technologies (most notably automated insulin delivery systems).
2) Better ways to deliver our services, via remote/virtual means.
3) A new name.
The first two changes are quite tangible. The third requires some insight and imagination, but its impact can be greater than the first two combined. Transitioning from “Diabetes Educator” to “Diabetes Care and Education Specialist” has not been without its challenges. Most of us hate saying all the words, and it still requires some follow-up to clarify what we actually do. But expanding the scope of our profession beyond solely education is of the utmost importance—and long overdue.
Consider the state of health care for people with diabetes. With so many treatment options and such a complex human dynamic in the implementation of said treatments, it is no wonder that today’s physicians aren’t always able to meet the needs of many of their patients with diabetes. Adding the word “CARE” to our title lets patients and providers know that we’re here to help. Care may take the form of active listening, or it may embody coaching individuals on lifestyle changes. In many cases, it involves detailed data analysis and development of customized interventions.
At no time was this more evident than at the recent Diabetes Technology Conference hosted by ADCES in Chicago. Nearly 300 attendees showed up with an intense thirst for upping their game. And did they ever drink! Not from the bars along Rush Street (although some did find their way there), but from the well of presenters and device representatives who gave them a chance to sample the same products our patients use and study the reports they generate.
Calling oneself a Diabetes CARE and Education Specialist carries additional responsibilities. Look for opportunities to up your game by reading current journals (ADCES In Practice is one of my personal favorites), attending conferences and workshops, learning from your colleagues and vendors, and exploring online resources (such as Danatech).
The name may be long and convoluted, but don’t lose sight of what’s really important: Living up to it.
Gary Scheiner is Owner and Clinical Director of Integrated Diabetes Services, a private practice based near Philadelphia specializing in educating and caring for people worldwide who utilize intensive insulin therapy.