Last month, I attended the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) Annual Meeting. This year, the meeting gathered over 3,100 attendees in Baltimore, Maryland, for four days of learning, networking, and valuable discussions in the diabetes space.
The theme of “Passion into Action” spoke directly to DiabetesSisters, a partner organization that stands behind the value of educators. This year, our involvement served as a testament that peer support communities and patient voices are important, valued, and necessary in our overall healthcare. In addition to my attendance, DiabetesSisters was represented among various PODS Leaders, speakers, and presenters during the course of the meeting. For more photos, check #AADE18 and #dSistersInAction on our social media channels.
Diabetes is not a science – those of us living with it know this – but rather, a dance of difficult choreography. And for most of us, once we learn that dance, a demanding director changes the steps, bringing us back to square one. The annual meeting seemed to understand and address this complicated dance.
This year, DiabetesSisters was involved in various programs, including:
- A poster session, where along with Nicole Bereolos, PhD, MPH, CDE, and Christel Marchand Aprigliano, MS, we presented our work on “Peer Support and Education to Better Thrive with Diabetes.” This poster made an encore at AADE18, having originally been shared at last year’s International Diabetes Federation Congress in Abu Dhabi. Still relevant, still important, we shared our work from the Weekend for Women Conference, The Diabetes UnConference, and our Partner’s Program to explain the value of peer support communities to healthcare that is significant, with measurable outcomes.
- “Listen and Learn: The Perspectives of a Panel of People with Diabetes” – this session focused on how educators can learn from patients to serve them better. Comprised of Stephen Shaul, patient advocate and one of our “Misters” (find him at Happy-Medium.net), Shelby Kinnaird, DiabetesSisters PODS Leader and blogger (find her at DiabeticFoodie.com), Christel Marchand Aprigliano, Co-founder of the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition, and myself, we shared our patient experiences with healthcare providers – the good, bad, and ugly – and offered suggestions on ways to improve our relationships so we can attain better diabetes outcomes. Discussions focused on how technology, language, peer support and social media influence how a person lives with diabetes. Moderated by Nicole Bereolos, PhD, MPH, CDE, we heard from many educators who both commended our advocacy and sought counsel on how to provide quality care to people living with diabetes.
- “Peer Support Communities Improving Mental Health for People with Diabetes – Let’s Talk About It” – a general session, where I was honored to sit alongside Mary de Groot, PhD, Michelle Litchman, PhD, FNP-BC, FAANP, and Elizabeth Beverly, PhD. During this special keynote session, we discussed the benefits of peer support communities for people with diabetes as a bridge between educator and healthcare visits, how peer and social support improve the quality of life of people with diabetes, and how it also can improve self-care. This session, something new at the annual meeting, spoke volumes on how the paradigm has shifted from patients being told how to manage diabetes to people with diabetes being involved in their care on a daily basis.
Each year, I am overwhelmed by the energy of diabetes educators and their desire to make a difference in our lives. This year was no different. Diabetes educators are cheerleaders and resources during our journey, and their commitment is unwavering.
Many thanks to AADE, their Board of Directors, leadership and planning committee for offering an annual meeting where the patient voice is heard and respected.