Why You Need a Diabetes Educator

A diabetes educator is a health professional who has extensive training in the field of diabetes. He or she is able to assist diabetic patients in the self-management of their disease. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, your diabetic educator will be an essential member of your health care team.

The Diabetes Educator

Diabetes educators come from a variety of health care backgrounds. Your diabetes educator may be a physician, a registered nurse, a pharmacist, or a dietician. He or she will coordinate your diabetes care with your primary care physician and your other health care professionals including your podiatrist, your dietician, your endocrinologist, and others.[i]

When searching for a diabetes educator it is crucial to find the right one. The best way to find a professional diabetes educator is to look at a person’s credentials. When making an appointment ask what associations the diabetes educator belongs to, where he or she received training, and ask about their current certifications.

Working with Your Diabetes Educator

Your diabetes educator recognizes that each diabetic is an individual. Therefore, you will work with your educator to make helpful lifestyle changes that will improve your health. Your educator will give you the latest information about your disease and help you with monitoring your blood sugar, healthy eating, and more.

A Healthy Diet: Making good food choices is necessary to managing your diabetes. Your diabetes educator will help you learn how what you eat affects your blood glucose. You will work together to create healthy meal plans so you can make informed choices when it comes to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

While working with your diabetes educator you will learn about nutrition facts. He or she will teach you about reading food labels and how carbohydrates and fats affect your blood sugar levels. You will learn to choose healthy foods when grocery shopping, in restaurants, and how to prepare good-for-you meals at home. Your educator will teach you about portion control and urge you to keep a food journal noting what you eat, how much, when, and even your emotions about eating.

Exercise: In working with your diabetes educator, you will learn that exercise is essential to keep your blood sugar levels in control. Your educator can tailor exercises to your current activity ability. Even simple activities such as gardening or walking are a great start.

Blood Sugar Monitoring: Monitoring glucose levels can be confusing for someone recently diagnosed with diabetes. It can also be frustrating for all diabetics as they work to gain control over fluctuating blood sugar levels. Your diabetes educator will work with you to create a program for monitoring your blood glucose levels. You will follow a plan and keep track of your results, which you will later discuss with your educator.

Medication: As with blood glucose monitoring, diabetes medications are often not very well understood by patients. Your diabetes educator will instruct you in the administration and use of insulin.[ii] He or she can explain why the medications were prescribed and discuss how they will make you feel. Your diabetes educator can also help you fit your medication into your daily schedule.[iii]

Complications and Risks: There are numerous complications and risks associated with diabetes. Diabetes education offers an excellent place to learn about these risks and discuss your feelings. Your diabetes educator can explain diabetes risks such as kidney disease, nerve damage, and loss of vision. He or she can let you know why certain complications occur and what preventive measures you can take now to lessen your chances of these risks.

Your diabetes educator will ask you to take precautions to avoid diabetes related complications. These precautions often include:

  • Scheduled medical check-ups
  • No smoking
  • Visit an ophthalmologist once a year for vision problems
  • Check feet for sores, blisters, and wounds
  • Monitor your blood glucose
  • Take medicines as prescribed

Working with your diabetes educator will help you learn about your disease, learn how to recognize problems, and learn how to solve problems as they arise. You cannot solve every problem alone. Your diabetes educator and your health care team will work together to give you the self-management techniques you need to live a full and healthy life.

References

[i]  4 Steps to Control Your Diabetes for Life. (n.d.). Retrieved from National Diabetes Educaation Program: http://www.ndep.nih.gov/publications/PublicationDetail.aspx?PubId=4&redirect=true

[ii]  Guidelines for the practice of diabetes education. (n.d.). Retrieved from Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: http://guidelines.gov/content.aspx?id=24594

[iii] Ibid

This article was originally published July 12, 2012 and last revision and update of it was 9/10/2015.