Diabetes Educators and Latinos
Are you getting the education you need to control your diabetes?
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
August 2008 — If you read dLife regularly, you have seen Diabetes Educators mentioned often. Chances are you are well aware of how important they are to good diabetes management, but in case you are not, I had the honor of chatting with Amparo Gonzalez, the current president of the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE).
Being the leader of the organization that gathers more than 11 thousand other professionals of diabetes education and a Latina herself made Amparo the perfect person to talk to this month, especially as the AADE's 2008 Annual Meeting & Exhibition takes place in early August.
Manny Hernandez: What does the AADE do and why do Certified Diabetes Educators play such an important role in diabetes management?
Amparo Gonzalez, RN, BSN, CDE: At the AADE, we believe that diabetes education is an integral part of the success of diabetes management. Our goal is for diabetes educators to provide the most successful training so that people with diabetes can be successful on their own.
The impact of the role of the Diabetes Educator comes in terms of behavioral change. They affect the EAG this way: providing and figuring out simpler, cheaper and faster ways for people with diabetes to achieve their control. There is always something you can do better and the educator can support you in that work.
MH: Can someone without a health background become a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)?
AG: In order to become a diabetes educator you first have to be a healthcare professional (nurse, pharmacist, dietician, etc.) From that point, you can earn your credentials as a CDE.
However, people outside of healthcare can play the role of a peer mentor. This is a promising role we are exploring now. These are people who have diabetes and have mastered their diabetes care: they have stories that need to be shared.
Another external role we are growing and bringing more into the healthcare team is the one that community healthcare workers are playing. They are mostly working in underserved Latino and African American communities.
MH: How do you see family members in regards to diabetes management? What about the case of Latinos?
AG: We see them as instrumental. As CDEs we are always conscious of inviting spouses to events that happen around the diabetes care of the patient. When the patient comes to class alone, we see that as a problem.
In the case of Latinos, I have found some unique elements are gender-specific. If the woman is the one who has diabetes, she typically has a harder time achieving control. She has to take care of herself and the family has to be taken care of separately. In many cases, the family refuses to follow the same healthy style that the patient is following.
If the man in the family is the one who has diabetes, his wife will commonly adapt and make sure that everyone in the family does it too. It is plain machismo.
MH: As a Hispanic and a CDE, what are your thoughts on the increasing numbers of Latinos getting diagnosed with diabetes?
AG: The challenge we face is to continue to provide programs that are culturally sensitive. We need to train from the physicians, the nurses and the diabetes educators to the receptionist on how to be culturally sensitive.
For example, in the case of Latinos: what happens if we are late to an appointment and we bring half of the family (the kids) with us? By the same token, what happens if your doctor assumes you eat tortillas although you are from Uruguay (where tortillas are not such a common food)?
MH: Any final words?
AG: Diabetes education is for everyone with diabetes.
Even those people who have had diabetes for a while need to see a diabetes educator. Diabetes educators can help you if you get off track with your diabetes, so you can get back on track.
Now that you know more about what they do and why it is important for your diabetes management, why don't you see a diabetes educator? You can go to AADE Web Site or the dLife Educator Resource and Community Center to find one that is nearby.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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