As an outpatient nurse in the early 1990s, Stacey DiModica was occasionally asked to help teach newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes patients about how to manage their disease. But as diabetes became exceedingly prevalent across the country, the need for a formal educational program grew.
In 1996, DiModica was certified as a diabetes educator and began leading the charge in diabetes education at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School.
“Understanding diabetes is the first step to managing it,” says DiModica. “It is a serious, lifelong condition that affects the body’s ability to use blood sugar for energy.”
There are several types of diabetes, but about 90 to 95 percent of those with this condition have type 2. People are at greater risk for this type if they are overweight, inactive, older or have a family history of diabetes.
DiModica believes teaching patients about diabetes as well as motivating and inspiring them are the most important priorities. And because each person’s diabetes affects him or her differently, one-on-one guidance is most effective for successful diabetes management.
Education helps motivate
The greatest challenge for most people with diabetes is finding the motivation to make recommended lifestyle changes. DiModica believes that if patients learn why they should make these changes, they are more likely to follow through.
“With knowledge, people become empowered – they are more likely to make lifestyle changes when they understand why these changes are good for them.”
During her 14 years as a diabetes educator, DiModica has been extremely impressed with how patients have achieved their goals.
“I have had some patients who lost 50 to 75 pounds, and others who never exercised a day in their life and are now running on a regular basis,” she says. “Some say they did it because I motivated them. But I tell them it’s because I guided them. I taught them how making these changes can help them live successfully with diabetes.”
Diabetes education is extremely goal oriented. “I help people understand that they can control the diabetes, the diabetes doesn’t have to control them,” says DiModica “And when they start seeing results, it inspires them – and me.”
Part teacher, part coach
To help people with diabetes improve their health and quality of life, certified diabetes educators (CDEs) focus on seven specific behaviors:
1. Healthy eating
2. Being active
4. Taking medication
5. Problem solving
6. Healthy coping
7. Reducing risks
Mount Auburn Hospital’s Diabetes Self-Management Training Program is nationally accredited by the American Diabetes Association. Through individualized education and support, the diabetes education team helps patients and their families dominate this disease.
At Mount Auburn Hospital, there are many nurses with specific areas of expertise. These nurses work collaboratively with a team of care providers to administer the highest quality of care to patients.
To make an appointment or for more information about the Diabetes Self-Management Training Program, please call us at (617) 499-5094.