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What does a Diabetologist do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2016
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A diabetologist is a medical practitioner who focuses on providing care to patients with diabetes. While diabetology is not a formally recognized medical specialty, people who choose to concentrate on diabetes care can be found in many regions of the world, especially in urban areas where there are large numbers of patients who need diabetes treatment. Patients with diabetes can sometimes benefit from the specialized treatment offered by a physician who only handles patients with diabetes.

These medical practitioners usually have received their training in internal medicine or pediatrics, although some are endocrinologists. After training and receiving board certification, the physician receives additional training in diabetes and begins focusing on diabetes care. Patients should be aware that because this is not a recognized medical specialty, there are no standards that must be met before a physician can identify as a diabetologist.

Patients with diabetes can be referred to a diabetologist or may seek one out independently. The physician conducts a complete clinical evaluation to learn more about the patient's specific condition and takes a patient history, collecting information about personal habits, diet, and exercise. All of this information will be used to develop a diabetes treatment plan that is tailored to the patient. Customizing treatment allows physicians to work with patients on a plan that they can realistically achieve, in contrast with plans where the treatment is dictated without regard for limitations on the part of the patient.

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As a treatment plan is developed, the patient periodically meets with the diabetologist for checkups. The doctor uses diagnostic testing, examinations, and interviews to confirm that the treatment is still working for the patient and to screen for early signs of diabetes complications, like vision problems and circulatory conditions. If the patient's treatment plan needs to be adjusted, the diabetologist is involved in developing a new approach and working with the patient to implement it.

In addition to working directly with patients, diabetologists can also be involved in diabetes research. Research is used to develop new treatments and medications as well as to establish a deeper understanding of diabetes and the ways it impacts the body. Researchers can work for charitable organizations, pharmaceutical companies, clinics, and other facilities interested in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diabetes. A diabetologist can also be involved in public outreach and education to identify at-risk populations and provide them with tools for preventing and identifying diabetes.

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