3 Things Health Professionals can learn with Diabetes

Jane K. Dickinson has lived with type 1 diabetes for 37 years. Today, she is a registered nurse and CDE, located in Steamboat Springs, CO. When it comes to her own diabetes management, she uses syringes with Novolog and Lantus insulin. On top of meeting with patients, Jane is the coordinator for the master’s program in “diabetes education and management” at Teachers College Columbia University. She strives to help her students connect with their patients on a new level, to become a source of motivation for progress and change. You can check out her own diabetes blog where she writes about everyday things and how they relate to diabetes.

Here, Jane shares 3 things she’s learned from her patients with diabetes:

  1. Every person with diabetes is unique. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, budgets, and the need to be as efficient as possible, health care has become very standardized, which can lessen the ability to offer more individualized care.”In my diabetes education practice, I’m very fortunate to have 60 minutes to meet with each patient — which is a lot compared to what some health care providers have. The remaining challenge, though, is how many times I get to meet with that patient and follow-up, either because they’re too busy or their insurance won’t pay for more than one visit in a certain amount of time.”
  2. There are common threads for everyone with diabetes. People clearly benefit from being part of a community. There is a fine line, she says, between keeping within the structure of the standardized system and making sure the patients gets specifically what they need and want in their appointment.”Gradually, I see my patients getting more active online. Locally, I don’t see people getting involved in diabetes-related groups, but I am noticing patients finding support and encouragement from other people with diabetes in online communities. Having a connection makes a tremendous difference. I have noticed there seems to be more online interactions with type 1 patients than those with type 2, but that is gradually changing, and I am referring more and more of my patients to online communities.”
  3. It’s not about me! Jane’s strongest focus when communicating with her patients is to inform, motivate and support them, rather than lecture or tell them what to do.”I’ve heard health care professionals say, ‘I got my patient to do this,’ and ‘I got my patient to do that.’ It’s not about me or your physician, and what I ‘convinced’ you to do as my patient. It’s about what they do in their life. I’m here to facilitate my patients’ progress, and educate them. I am not trying to convince or force or sway someone to do something.”

Stay tuned for more articles and interviews with Jane over the next few months! Do you have questions or articles from the perspective of a CDE living with diabetes that you’d like to read? Post your comments and suggestions here and we’ll be sure to consider them!

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