Diabetes Education – What Is It?
Diabetes is a chronic disease and managing it well means making many decisions and performing specific activities on a daily basis. These can be confusing or very overwhelming when you’re trying to figure out “how do I fit my life around diabetes?” That is exactly where the Diabetes & Nutrition Education Center team at Western Washington Medical Group (WWMG) comes in. The team partners with you and provides education to enhance the skills and abilities necessary for diabetes management and self-care. They also provide support, offer additional resources, and strategize ways to modify or adopt new behaviors to sustain your diabetes self-care on an ongoing basis. This is accomplished by considering your unique health beliefs, cultural needs, current knowledge, physical limitations, emotional concerns, family support, financial status, medical history, and other factors that may affect your life. Instead of the approach “do this, do that”, we will guide you through the why and how so you will instinctively understand what to do. You will no longer feel you have to fit your life around diabetes – rather we will collaborate with you to develop a realistic plan for diabetes to fit into your life. This education can help improve your health and reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications.
Why Should I Get Diabetes Management Education?
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that all individuals with diabetes receive diabetes self-management education and support (DSME/S) at diagnosis and yearly thereafter. Aside from getting a great education, guidance, and support, it’s been shown that hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) can be reduced by as much as 1% when a person receives diabetes care. There are also reported reductions in the onset and/or advancement of diabetes complications, improved quality of life, increased healthful eating pattern and engagement in regular physical activity, enhanced self-efficacy and empowerment, an increase in healthy coping, and a decrease in diabetes-related distress and depression. A direct correlation is observed between time spent with a diabetes educator and better outcomes.
Who Do You See?
The American Association of Diabetes Educators advocates diabetes education that is provided by a certified diabetes educator (CDE). Diabetes educators are best suited because they are multidisciplinary health professionals who possess comprehensive training and knowledge of and experience in pre-diabetes, diabetes prevention, and diabetes management. WWMG has several diabetes educators on staff, all registered dietitians (RDs) and all of whom have earned or are currently working towards their CDE credential.
What Does a Visit Look Like?
You can usually expect to have a one-on-one visit with one of our diabetes educators. At this visit, the educator will discuss and explain diabetes (if the diagnosis is new for you), answer your immediate questions and address any pressing concerns about managing diabetes. For example, why your blood sugar always seems high even though you’ve never missed a dose of your medication and have eaten the same types of meals for years? Or why you need to take that new medication your doctor prescribed for you?
Our educator may introduce you to blood glucose monitoring, provide you with a glucometer and come up with a plan for collecting blood glucose data. Additional visit topics include making sense of blood glucose trends, developing a personalized food plan, and education, training and optimization of your medication or insulin regimen. In addition, the Diabetes & Nutritional Education Center offers training on insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring devices.
Ongoing visits are continued based on patient need. If you have type 2 diabetes we recommend and encourage attendance in the comprehensive type 2 diabetes education group program. The small group education program runs over three classes or one full-day and typically consists of no more than 4-5 patients (support people are encouraged to attend as well). The group format is facilitated by a diabetes educator. Topics covered include healthy eating, being active, blood glucose monitoring, taking medication, problem-solving, healthy coping, and reducing risks.
WWMG is proud of our program’s national accreditation by the American Association for Diabetes Educators, which is the only organization solely dedicated to diabetes education. This accreditation ensures that the program meets the criteria for quality established by the National Standards for diabetes education.
What about the cost?
Many insurance plans offer coverage for multiple visits annually for diabetes self-management education/training. At WWMG, we offer comprehensive services in diabetes education and Medical Nutrition Therapy for people with all types of diabetes in addition to multiple other health and disease states. We are available in four locations: Bothell and Canyon Park, Marysville, Snohomish and Silver Lake, South Everett. Please call for more information at 425-791-3087 or online at http://www.wwmedgroup.com/diabetes-nutrition/.
Boren SA et al. Costs and Benefits Associated With Diabetes Education: A Review of the Literature. Diabetes Educ. 2009;35(1): 72-96.
Powers, MA et al. Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support in Type 2 Diabetes: A Joint Position Statement of the American Diabetes Association, the American Association of Diabetes Educators, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015;115(8): 1323-1334.