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A Sweet Spot for Diabetes Patients

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Mary Freund Wilson, CRNP, is the recipient of the 2014 Healthcare Champion Award from the American Diabetes Association and a nurse practitioner at Metro Health in Wyoming, Mich.

Mary Freund Wilson, CRNP, is the recipient of the 2014 Healthcare Champion Award from the American Diabetes Association and a nurse practitioner at Metro Health in Wyoming, Mich.

Q.
Why do you think obesity and nutrition are important issues for nurses to be knowledgeable about?
A.

Nurses know how to meet people at their educational and cultural levels and address small measurable life changes. We have been trained to make a plan of care and help persons succeed. Additionally, nurses have always had the approach of treating the “whole person.” Nutrition is the cornerstone to proper growth and development, and nurses focused on nutrition long before obesity was an issue. Our nursing care plans included nutritional assessments of all ages, even before the 1980s.

Q.
Why did you decide to work with diabetes patients?
A.

During my nursing program, I worked with a nurse practitioner to run a diabetes clinic. I saw the necessity of approaching people with diabetes, educating them and giving them the knowledge and tools to take control of their disease. The only way to fully empower them is through an interdisciplinary team: educators, providers, pharmacists and nurses. Diabetes prevention programs are truly our biggest tool to turning the tide back against diabetes and obesity. There is clear and convincing data showing diabetes and prevention programs are successful and working!

Q.
How has the care and treatment of diabetes patients changed since you’ve been a nurse? Looking ahead, what trends do you see on the horizon?
A.

I just missed the days of boiling your syringes and needles! When I started my career, blood glucose monitoring was visual reads of colors on the strip and took at least two minutes. We know so much more today, such as information about the body’s feedback systems involved in insulin resistance, tissue sensitivity, gut hormones, renal transport and insulin production. This knowledge has helped develop many new medications and tools. However, the mainstay of diabetes remains patient education about diet, exercise and medications including prevention. Diabetes educators, nurses and registered dietitians are always at the forefront of this initiative and ongoing need.

Q.
What are the responsibilities of a diabetes nurse educator?
A.

Diabetes educators work to empower persons with diabetes and their support team/family throughout the changing landscape of aging, technology and new information and medications. They support, educate and help patients manage diabetes in the safest, most successful manner possible. They help people live long, healthy lives. Educators help patients manage a complex disease by making healthy food choices, staying physically active, monitoring blood sugars and taking medications as prescribed. They are available to their patients for help with problem solving, anticipating challenges, reducing risks of complications and assisting them to cope with lifestyle changes, fears and problems along the way.

Q.
What resources can you recommend for a nurse who is interested in learning more about diabetes education?
A.

The American Association for Diabetes Educators has amazing resources, information and tools. They are the certifying body for diabetes educators and Advanced Diabetes Management Board certified providers. The American Diabetes Association also has some fabulous professional and patient centered information. I use them both as resources. Q. What has been one of the highlights of your career? A. I love my job every single day! I have the honor and privilege to be part of my patient's lives and their journey with diabetes. They invite me into their lives and trust me. Every day, I pinch myself and say "and I get paid for doing this?!"

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