Back from the AADE

AADE 8:2010 - 68

I know I’ve just returned from San Antonio because my body is craving guacamole and the smell of fresh mint in those juicy mojitos! Ah, but that’s not what you tuned in for, is it?

The annual diabetes educators conference was a hit with thousands of diabetes educators, nurses, physicians and pharmacists attending the 4 days of lectures, bonding, learning and renewing their credentials, and their spirit. The first evening at the poster event while all were mingling, I asked several CDEs what keeps them going. The answer was always the same, “Making a difference in someone’s life,” and that feeling was palpable.

The meeting kicked off with President, Deb Fillman’s welcome address.  I was extremely happy, and surprised, to hear her talk so emphatically about the need for change. The need for educators and the profession to look outside the box for new ways of working as more will be asked of them. 

Prevention is becoming a big topic in health care and for CDEs. The U.S. Senate’s passage of the health care reform bill late last year includes a provision to establish a National Diabetes Prevention Program. This means an expanded role for CDEs in the prevention of diabetes. Although god only knows how they will do more given the thousands of educators for millions of patients.

Fillman asked the audience to be more adventurous with change in their personal lives, taking on challenges and reaching for more fulfillment and success, as it will flow into being even better mentors and educators. Fillman also spotlighted the AADE’s new online tool, “My AADE Network” which helps members connect wherever they are and create an online community and remote learning.

Rear Admiral and former AssistantSurgeon General, Susan Blumenthal, was the keynote opening speaker. She pressed the sense of urgency upon us that we need to stand up to deal with the obesity epidemic now that’s taking a huge toll on America’s health and economy.  

The exhibition hall, always interesting to me, didn’t get as much traffic as usual and vendors didn’t know why except to suggest the short hours precluded many attendees from spending much time there if they were sitting in on continuous lectures. Also, the bookstore made a decision to only carry ADA publications and those of their speakers doing book signings. Other authors needed to show their own book(s) at their own booth, if they had one. 

I presented Saturday morning a behavioral program titled, “Beyond Motivational Interviewing: What Can Happen When You Catch Someone Doing Something Right.” There were about 100 attendees excited to be introduced to an entirely new mindset and model for working with diabetes patients: a mindset of “flourishing” with diabetes and a coaching model that enables health professionals to work as facilitators with patients, as appropriate, to:

1.  Explore the context of patients’ lives 

2. Play “Strengths Detective” to help patients recall and reconnect with capabilities they’ve used in the past

3. Collaboratively design mechanisms for sustaining healthy habits, causing positive behavior change faster and more sustainably than when only using the traditional model of “telling patients what to do.” 

This is exciting stuff that you’ll be hearing more about. I am currently putting the finishing touches on a curriculum to train health professionals on this mindset and model along with my two partners,Boudewijn Bertsch and Eileen Murphy.

A phenomenal play called, ‘Close to the Heart’ produced by Amylin was one of the conference’s highlights. With real actors in tow, it dramatized a patient getting a diagnosis of diabetes and how she deals with it, along with her relationships with her jealous best friend who is struggling with her diabetes, her supportive, yet pre-diabetic husband, and physician. Even I who have had diabetes for 38 years felt anew this woman’s confusion and pain. 

After the half hour performance Dr. Steven Edelman of TCOYD, Psychologist Bill Polonsky of BDI, heart surgeon Robert Chilton, Dr. Stephen Brunton and host Davida Kruger, certified nurse practitioner, answered questions in a panel discussion. Kudos to Amylin for going outside the box. It was a smash, and I know Amylin has plans to make short videos of it.

The general session closed with an in-your-face presentation by Dr. Michael Roizen, Chief Wellness Officer at Cleveland Clinic about the cost, both physical and economic, of our obesity and diabetes tsunami. Roizen has been an impressive change-agent spearheading the “Lifestyle 180 Program” at the Cleveland Clinic, which was first piloted with Clinic employees and now available to patients.  

One point Roizen made that still resonates is — food is an absolute, you can’t make a deal with food. What you eat is critical to your body and your health and either will or won’t turn on the genes for illness. For instance the sugar in ice cream will change the proteins in your body. That, he says, is a given. You can burn off the calories, but too many unhealthy foods and you’re creating inflammation which creates disease. 

Next year’s conference is in Las Vegas. I think my husband is already booking the hotel and buying his binoculars to look for Elvis.

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