By Theresa Garnero, APRN, BC-ADM, MSN, CDE
The Golden Pancreas Award
Move over Hollywood. The American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) took center stage at our national convention.
The red carpet was rolled out to celebrate our efforts as certified diabetes educators (CDEs) and provide over 130 courses from internationally renowned speakers on the latest research and approaches to care. Out of over 10,000 CDEs in the United States, I was honored to receive the prestigious Diabetes Educator of the Year award and the Allene Van Son award for best audiovisual education tool for my diabetes cartoons.
Wait! Slam on the brakes! Have you not heard about AADE? The AADE is the leading authority in diabetes self-management training and in lifestyle management for the prevention of diabetes.
So, why aren’t AADE and diabetes educator household names? Visibility. At the conference, we were hard to miss with over 6,000 attendees. At home, in your community, do you know your diabetes educator? We have a passion for making a difference in helping people live successfully with diabetes, that is, for the ones lucky enough to meet us (67% of people with eligible Medicare coverage do NOT see their CDE. For a list of CDEs in your area within the U.S., call 1-800-832-6874.
In addition to the incredible recognition I received, I also learned many cutting-edge research findings and startling facts:
- The U.S. national average A1C level (a blood test that measures a 3-month blood glucose level) is a staggering 9.5% (7% or less is the target range to prevent complications)
- 30-40% of people with hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels) leave the hospital with undiagnosed diabetes
- Less than 2% of people with diabetes have reached the goals for blood pressure, cholesterol, A1C and daily aspirin use (this is worthy of a separate column; talk with your doctor before starting aspirin)
- Less than 3% of people with diabetes see an endocrinologist (a diabetes specialist)
- The average doctor’s visit is 7 minutes
- Half (50%) of heart attacks are caused by a bacteria called Chlamydia pneumoniae which camps out in the coronary artery (more on this in an upcoming article)
- The 30-39 age group has a 70% increase in the rate of diabetes (the highest rate of any age group)
What is the solution to a seemingly insurmountable, uphill battle? Give power to the people. As Ann Albright, Ph.D., R.D. says, CDEs are the ambassadors and communicators in local, state and national levels, and we need your help:
- Get involved locally and spread the word about diabetes education and its virtues
- Ask your doctor for a referral to see a CDE
- Call your local government officials to sponsor pending diabetes-related federal legislation (HR 3194 and Senate Bill 2431) which will improve access to diabetes educators
My goal as Diabetes Educator of the Year is to increase our visibility. With the help of a generous $10,000 grant from LifeScan and support from AADE, I will fly across the U.S. to lecture and collaborate with other CDEs. As I stood in front of thousands of fellow diabetes professionals to accept the awards, I took a picture of the audience. We are one in terms of our mission. With over 18 million people with diabetes and 41 million pre-diabetics in the U.S. alone, AADE should be on the cover of People magazine! I wish to extend a special thanks to Defeat Diabetes Foundation for recognizing the value of CDEs and the benefits of diabetes cartoons.
My hope is that “diabetes education” will be as recognized as any Hollywood movie stars’ names. Although I won the proverbial golden pancreas award, I invite you to join us in getting the word out about diabetes education. You can save someone’s life.
Remember the sage words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”