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A Diabetes Coach You Can Trust

By Jeemin Kwon

How diabetes educators see people with diabetes differently – research from the American Association of Diabetes Educators conference

In August, thousands gathered in Indianapolis for the 2017 American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) conference. At the meeting, Dr. Julie Gee presented her research on the key role that diabetes educators play in promoting care that puts people with diabetes in the driver’s seat.

The study analyzed responses from over 200 diabetes educators who were assessed on their beliefs towards self-management in people with diabetes as well as strategies they used to support self-management.

Survey results showed that diabetes educators scored higher than other healthcare specialists in their belief that self-management is important, meaning they supported ideas such as, “people with diabetes should function as a member of their care team” and “people with diabetes should independently make judgments and seek info.” Diabetes educators also scored high on the Clinician Self-Management Scale, meaning they used strategies like, “Ask the person with diabetes what changes he or she wants to focus on,” and “Tell the person with diabetes you will be their coach, but that they are the one who has to carry out the plan.” The takeaway from this research is that diabetes educators are stand out in their support for and emphasis on self-management for people with diabetes.

What do diabetes educators do?

Diabetes educators empower people to take control of their own care. When seeing a diabetes educator, you can expect to work on medication strategies, nutritional guidelines, and more. Diabetes educators do not exist to dictate care plans – they are leaders in the movement against paternalistic, one-size-fits-all care. Motivational interviewing is a key tool in the educators’ toolbox, which helps people become motivated to change their own behaviors through open-ended questioning and reflection. (Read more on this in the Mindset chapter of Bright Spots & Landmines.) Most importantly, studies show diabetes education works, lowering A1c and improving quality of life.   

I’m interested in working with a diabetes educator!

Use this tool to find a certified diabetes educator near you. In the United States, when working with a diabetes educator accredited by the AADE or ADA, the sessions are covered by Medicare and most private insurance plans. For any insurance coverage of these sessions, you must typically be referred by a healthcare provider.

Under Medicare Part B, up to 10 hours of initial sessions are covered; following the initial training, you may be eligible for 2 hours of training a year. With Medicare coverage, you still pay 20% of the sessions’ cost. Private insurance plans are usually similar to Medicare coverage.