Diabetes Educators: a sweet spot in diabetes management
I had the privilege of presenting to 150 diabetes educator at the Novo Nordisk Victorian Diabetes Educators Symposium in February this year. Not only was I in the company of some of the best brains and clinicians in diabetes, which included Professor Duncan Topliss, Professor Peter Coleman and Dr Sharon Marks, but had the pleasure to meet and interact with passionate and dedicated diabetes educators. Their interest, questions and willingness to learn was unrivalled and it made me realise what an essential part of diabetes management they play.
So what is the role of diabetes educators?
Certainly in my clinical practice, diabetes educators have been invaluable in providing advice, support and education to my patients who have either been newly diagnosed with diabetes or for ongoing care. In my opinion, they are true specialist in their field of nursing, self-empowering the person with diabetes by focussing on their individual needs, quality patient education and encouraging them to manage their problems themselves. There is no doubt that their invaluable role has been a cost effective addition to the health system reducing the frequency of medical visits and hospitalization.
Diabetes in Australia
We know that we are in the middle of an obesity and diabetes epidemic and they are both the biggest challenges confronting the Australian Health System in the 21st Century. In Australia, 280 Australians develop diabetes everyday and more than 100,000 Australians have developed diabetes in the past year. The total annual cost impact of diabetes in Australia is estimated at $14.6 million. Diabetes educator make such an important contribution in reducing this burden and helping the newly diagnosed diabetic patient on their journey to managing their diabetes in the best possible way.
The Diabetes Educators Symposium
As the management of diabetes is changing constantly, it was wonderful to see so many diabetes educators present.
Professor Duncan Topliss spoke about the often unnoticed diagnosis of steroid induced diabetes which is an abnormal increase in blood glucose associated with corticosteroids without a prior diagnosis of diabetes. Corticosteroids are often taken for the management of asthma, rheumatological joint disorders, skin problems and allergies. It is still debatable whether long term continuous use of steroids, patients may cause progression to develop type 2 diabetes.
Dr Chin Tan, spoke about the important element of post prandial control (control after eating). It is so important to manage sugars to prevent hyperglycaemic episodes after eating and Dr Tan highlighted this. Professor Peter Colman spoke about the less common type 1 diabetes which occurs at a young age and is to do with the body not making enough insulin. Insulin is an important hormone made the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar in food for energy or to store for future use.
We also had some wonderful presentations from Dr Anton Harding discussing the role of the using insulin pumps to manage difficult to control diabetes. A fascinating personal talk was given by Justin Morris, a former Novo Nordisk cycling elite athlete, talking about living with type 1 diabetes proving that with good management you can live a full and fulfilling life including being a successful athlete. Great motivation for those who suffer with diabetes.
Diabetes Educators: A sweet spot in spot in diabetes management
I had the opportunity to present some interesting case studies on managing weight loss in patients with diabetes with Dr Sharon Marks which provided some excellent discussion and management issues. We know that Weight loss in diabetes lowers your blood sugar levels, and reduces your progression to complications and be a part of every type 2 Diabetes strategy.
There is no doubt that diabetes in a worrying chronic disease in the 21st century. It can result in multi-organ disease, lower quality of life and early death if not managed properly. Diabetes educators play such an essential role in both the personal and clinical role in managing diabetes. They are indeed a sweet spot and an important member of the patient’s journey in their diabetes.
Please comment if you have had an experience with a diabetes educator or if you are a diabetes educator and would like to talk about your role.