Team Players: Learn About the Medical Professionals Involved in Your Care

Your Diabetes Care TeamSince diabetes affects many different areas of the body, it’s important to create a team of healthcare professionals to help you address every part of the disease. The number and type of providers on your healthcare team depend upon the state of your health and your medical requirements. You may need to include the following healthcare professionals.

Primary Care Provider: This could be the family practice physician you see when you get sick and/or an endocrinologist, a doctor with special training in diseases such as diabetes. If you do not see an endocrinologist, find a primary care provider who has experience treating people with diabetes.

Diabetes Educator: This registered nurse, registered dietitian or pharmacist has special training in caring for those with diabetes. This type of expert can address many of your diabetes concerns and teach you how to take insulin, check blood glucose levels, handle sick days and create health goals. Diabetes educators usually work in doctors’ offices, hospitals and pharmacies.

Registered Dietician: This nationally certified member of your healthcare team can help you create a balanced meal plan that works with your lifestyle. Your dietitian might help you create special goals such as reading food labels, losing weight and balancing food with medications and activity.

Eye Doctor: An ophthalmologist or an optometrist will check for any changes in your eyes. Since diabetes can affect the blood vessels in the eyes, the American Diabetes Association recommends an annual visit.

Mental Health Professional: Experts such as social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists and marriage and family therapists help you deal with the personal and emotional side of living with diabetes.

Podiatrist: Since diabetes causes poor blood circulation and nerve disease in the extremities, seeing a foot doctor at least once a year is a must. Treating corns, calluses and foot sores may prevent serious problems.

Pharmacist: These highly trained professionals understand medicines and interactions. You should find a pharmacy you like and use it regularly so your pharmacist can keep an accurate, up-to-date profile of your medical history, allergies and medications.

Dentist: Did you know people with diabetes are at greater risk for gum disease? Make sure you schedule an appointment with a dentist — who knows you have diabetes — every six months.

Exercise Physiologist: A professional trained in exercise science and safe conditioning techniques can help create a tailor-made exercise plan. Speak with your primary care provider before starting a plan.

You: The most important member of your healthcare team is you! Since diabetes is a 24/7/365 disease, your actions every day help determine your overall health. Your healthcare team depends on you to talk to them honestly and to tell them how you feel.

Adapted from Take Charge! Living With, Preventing & Stopping Diabetes, CW Publishing Group, November 2012.

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4 Responses to Team Players: Learn About the Medical Professionals Involved in Your Care

  1. John says:

    The most important member on my team has been the other diabetic, that rogue patient who isn’t restricted in what they can say, who knows the real problems we all face, who lives it 24×7, who makes six to ten life and death decisions every day, who understands how insulin and food and medications really work, but who is of course completely unreliable so you don’t mention them.

    Thank you “Spike” in San José for saving my life when I was almost hopeless after 31 years of following this static healthcare team’s direction!

    • Janice says:

      John, so sorry that your experience with your healthcare team was not a positive one. Living with Diabetes is not easy, or living with any chronic disease for that matter. What seems to help is having an understanding of Diabetes, and the manner in which the foods we eat affect the prognosis. Never leave the education of your disease entirely up to the healthcare professionals. I gather you did not. Show the health care professionals that our health is our wealth and we will take charge.When this happens, you gain their respect. Be prepared for you visits, have all your concerns written so you don’t forget, no matter how trivial it appears to you.

  2. Chloe says:

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