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Diabetes Education: Why It’s so Crucial to Care

Diabetes education is the cornerstone of diabetes management, because diabetes requires day-to-day knowledge of nutrition, exercise, monitoring, and medication, according to Patricia Bonsignore, M.S., R.N., C.D.E., Diabetes Educator at the Joslin Diabetes Center. 

Importance of Diabetes Education

Diabetes is unlike other diseases, such as cholesterol and hypertension, where medication alone can often times successfully treat it, Bonsignore says.  There are a lot of other components to diabetes, such as: the diabetes disease process, nutritional management, physical activity, medications, glucose monitoring, and psychosocial adjustment.

Diabetes education makes you more aware of diabetes, what it takes to treat it, and gives you the power to control it.  Diabetes education allows you to better incorporate education into your life and make the necessary changes to improve your lifestyle.

Who to Involve in your Diabetes Education

Diabetes education and self-management training should be done with a team, according to Bonsignore.  The team should consist ideally of:

If you don’t have access to all of these people, Bonsignore says to check with your local hospital to see what diabetes education services are available, or ask your primary care physician about the endocrinologists in your area.

Best Practices for Diabetes Education

It’s a good idea to have individual diabetes education as well as group education.  In a group, you may feel more comfortable because people have the same concerns, you can share your experiences and frustrations, and hear answers to questions you may not have thought of yourself.  However, Bonsignore says it’s very important that you create an individual plan after the group visit, because everyone’s lifestyle is different.

Your diabetes self-management goals should not only be individualized, but also measurable and achievable.  You should create very specific short-term goals as well as long-term goals.  An example of a short-term goal might be saying you’ll lose one to two pounds per week, while a long-term goal would be to lose 50 pounds.

Diabetes education is an ongoing process that should be repeated every one to two years, either with a diabetes nurse educator or a nutritionist.  This allows patients to keep up to date.

Diabetes education gives you the power to control your diabetes, so it doesn’t end up controlling you.

Finding a Diabetes Educator

Joslin Diabetes Center – make an appointment with a diabetes educator
Joslin Affiliates – find a diabetes educator at a Joslin Diabetes Center affiliate in your area
American Diabetes Association – find programs for the best places to seek a diabetes educator in your area
American Association of Diabetes Educators – locate a diabetes educator in your area that may not be working in a recognized program

For more information about education programs offered at Joslin Clinic, please call 617-264-2780.  To schedule individual appointments, call 617-732-2400.

Page last updated: December 21, 2014