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How do I find out about the latest developments for treatment and monitoring of diabetes?

There are a number of resources that are available to inform people with diabetes and others who are interested about diabetes and the latest developments in treatment. These range from published magazines, periodicals, and newsletters to online e-zines and updates. It is important to ensure that the source of information is well informed and reliable. Therefore, it is advisable to start with a nationally or internationally recognized and respected organization. For diabetes in the United States, these include the American Diabetes Association (diabetes.org), the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). Their websites all show links to helpful information on a variety of subjects. Each puts out publications for the lay person, such as Diabetes Forecast (ADA) and Countdown (JDRF). There are also a number of high quality independent newsletters, including Diabetes-in-Control, DDN On Line, Diabetic LivingOnLine, and Diabetes Digest. A listing of online diabetes publications for those with diabetes can be found at diabetesmonitor.com/journals.htm.

The local chapter of the ADA and JDF will be able to direct you to resources unique to your area. Their contact information can usually be found within the website of the parent national organization. Your local hospital, clinic, or doctor's office will generally have, or have access to, a diabetes education program, staffed by certified diabetes educators who are usually nurse practitioners, nurses, pharmacists, or registered dietitians. As a rule, CDEs are well informed on recent developments and on how to find out more about them and are happy to provide this information.

Where can I find out about interactive programs and games that make learning about diabetes fun for children and teenagers?

The American Diabetes Association recently unveiled a new interactive learning feature for young people with diabetes, which can be accessed at diabetes.org/for-parents-and-kids/resources.jsp and then by clicking on the link to Youth Zone Games. These are interactive short programs that hold children's attention by responding with an outcome to a specific set of choices relating to health and diabetes.

Pharmaceutical companies often provide educational resources. An example of a new interactive program for diabetes education is now offered by Merck Inc. It is called Journey For Control and uses a system of Conversation Maps for interactive education and decision making. The program and a video describing the conversation maps can be accessed at journeyforcontrol.com and then clicking on the link to the Conversation Map Program.

If sufficient resources were to be invested, very sophisticated interactive video games could be developed that could combine an educational message with a genuinely interesting and exciting adventure activity. However, since these types of programs are very expensive and unlikely to recoup their costs commercially, they will probably remain relatively short and simple until costs come down.

I am interested in a professional career in the field of diabetes. Where can I find out the various options and the prerequisites to apply?

Opportunities for a career in diabetes can be as diverse as the opportunities to be an advocate for diabetes (see Question 83), a caregiver in the diabetes medical field, or to work in the field of developing new technologies for diabetes care. However, building a career around your commitment to diabetes is complex, since you will almost certainly want and need to be paid for your work. Careers requiring higher professional qualifications, such as adult pediatric endocrinologists or diabetologists, physicians specializing in diabetic eye, kidney, or nerve diseases, diabetes nurse educators, and dietitians, generally require several years of planning and preparation to achieve and require a great deal of commitment due to the many demands placed upon them. Sometimes a person not previously involved in diabetes care may have skills, knowledge, or credentials that can be adapted to the field of diabetes, such as dietitians or nurses, who can take additional training, even in the middle of their careers, and specialize in the area of diabetes care. The same is true of qualified and experienced laboratory research professionals, who will use many of the same skills in the field of diabetes research that they used in other areas of medical or pharmaceutical research.

There are many other ways to develop a career committed to diabetes. Most medical institutions and industry or university research or clinical care organizations require the same administrative and technical support staff to ensure smooth and successful operations that other business organizations do. Even if you are working behind the scenes and do not have a job that allows direct interaction with patients or medical care, doing a job that helps to ensure smooth and successful running of an organization is a very important part of ensuring the overall success of the patient- related efforts. Therefore, it is recommended that you bring your skills to the table and contact organizations that you know are involved in some way with clinical care, education, research, or advocacy for diabetes and ask if they have openings for somebody with your skills. Be assured that sooner or later, doors will open!

What educational programs for diabetes are covered by Medicare and other governmental and private insurance plans? Who qualifies?

Medicare covers the cost of group diabetes education for eligible people with diabetes who fulfill certain criteria. Examples of these include people with newly diagnosed diabetes, poorly controlled diabetes, or the need to change from pills to insulin. Presently, Medicare will support up to 8 hours of diabetes, education performed in a center that is recognized as qualified. This means that their educational programs must be certified as meeting the required standard by the American Diabetes Association. A further hour of follow-up education can be provided in the first year to determine the success of the program. Unfortunately, most state medical care programs do not provide significant support for diabetes education, but provide a limited selection of medications and some support materials, such as a particular type of glucose testing meter.

Upon request, most private insurance providers will cover diabetes education upon the same, or similar, conditions. Also, most insurance companies will cover the cost of individual diabetes education by a certified diabetes educator. This includes dietary instruction, use of glucose meters, giving insulin injections, etc. As each healthcare plan varies, specific information on who qualifies is not realistic here, but it is recommended that you contact your healthcare plan to find out more details.

 
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