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A diabetes educator works with individuals affected by diabetes or in danger of developing diabetes to provide information and help develop coping skills and healthy habits. Trained professionals may be employed as diabetes educators at a variety of medical facilities, such as hospitals or pharmacies. Most diabetes educators are medical professionals, such as nurses or doctors, with additional certification in diabetes education. In some areas, people who work to educate others about diabetes do not require special medical degrees or certification, although they often have special training or knowledge.
The job of a diabetes educator is spent working closely with actual people with diabetes, as well as with their caregivers and families. When working with a patient, the diabetes educator may answer questions, offer advice, or endeavor to modify behavior in some other way. A patient may have both physical and emotional problems with drastic changes to his or her lifestyle, so emphasis on the importance of these changes is paramount.
Diabetes needs to be treated on a variety of fronts, which include diet, exercise, and keeping track of glucose levels. Other considerations include knowing how and when to take medication and when to seek professional help. A diabetes educator works with the patient to make sure that he or she understands how diabetes affects his or her body and what to do to minimize health risks due to living with the disease.
Particularly when working with children, the diabetes educator must also share a majority of this information with caregivers. The diabetes instructor must be sure to address the concerns of parents and family as well as the patient. When children have diabetes, they may be expected to contribute to their own treatment at different levels than adults. Children should usually be taught what particular symptoms must be reported to adults.
Some groups offer diabetes education but are not associated with a particular medical organization. These groups often focus on particular areas that have high rates of diabetes. Native Americans in the United States, for instance, often have problems with diabetes that are both social and biological in nature. A diabetes educator who works specifically with a tribal group may employ a variety of strategies that are culturally specific to that tribe and may work to identify socially acceptable changes that can be made in members' diets to combat the disorder.
The job of a diabetes educator is complex because eating choices, biology, and other factors play a role in diabetes. An educator's job involves identification of problems and the ability to come up with solutions. This involves extensive problem-solving skills as well as interpersonal skills. A job like this requires innovative, attentive professionals who can deal with serious health problems graciously.
In my opinion, the most important thing a diabetes educator does for an adult is to offer hope and encouragement. My dad died from complications from diabetes and when I was diagnosed, I became severely depressed -- nearly suicidal.
However, my diabetes educator shared that she has been diagnosed for over 20 years, stayed on her diet, did what she was supposed to do, and has had very few complications. I took the class and she said diabetics have a better chance than ever of avoiding complications if they just do what they're supposed to do. This helped me realize it was worth the effort and I appreciate her for it.
A good DE can also help answer questions that come up after the class ends and can also offer ideas and resources for people so they can manage their diabetes more effectively.
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