My time at the ADA 79th Scientific Sessions can be described in one word: incredible. While attending the conference with The College Diabetes Network, myself and the other five NextGen Leaders had the opportunity to network with people working in the diabetes sector as well as professionals in each of our fields of interest. Before flying to San Francisco, I had no idea what to expect out of the conference. I knew we would be working the CDN booth and attending presentation sessions, but I had not realized how many people we would meet and form a professional relationship with.
One evening, I was able to attend the Insulet Dinner Event and Panel Discussion where I met and dined with various medical professionals and Insulet representatives from across the world. After running into another NextGen leader’s mentor, Dr. Daniel DeSalvo, he took the time to introduce me to other attendees he knew as I did not know anyone else there. While speaking with these individuals, I was able to express my interest in working in the diabetes sector and my plan to become a Physician Assistant in a rural/underserved area. From these introductions, I met a past CDN member who is now working at the Barbara Davis Center, a group of CDEs from San Francisco, and multiple Insulet representatives, each of whom was excited to learn about CDN and my experience being diagnosed as a young adult. Prior to dinner being served, I had been walking around the tables to find an open seat when Jeff Hitchcock, founder of Children with Diabetes, invited me to sit in an open seat next to him. After introducing myself and explaining my interest in the diabetes sector, we discussed the importance of people with diabetes working in the diabetes sector in order to ensure other patients are getting the care they need and deserve. They were also excited to learn more about CDN’s impact not only on myself but other young adults living with diabetes.
The following evening, all of the NextGen students attended the TCOYD Diabetes Forum and Reception. While walking around the venue waiting for the program to begin, we ran into Aaron Kowalski, President and CEO of JDRF, as well as a man who helped create the iWel CGM and has worked in various aspects of the diabetes sector. While speaking to him, we discussed the features of different diabetes technologies and what we think about when considering difference devices. During the forum I stepped out to grab a bite of food when Christina Roth, CEO and Founder of CDN, introduced me to Nicolas Cuttriss, MD, MPH from the Pediatric Endocrinology Clinic at Stanford University. He is the director of their Project ECHO T1D Clinic. This introduction was especially important to me and my goals: his project allows primary care providers in underserved areas to connect with endocrinology physicians and researchers from Stanford in order to gain specialty knowledge to be used in caring for patients with diabetes. Since the conference, I have been able to connect with Dr. Cuttriss and learn more about this amazing resource for non-endocrinology healthcare providers.
Outside of these dinners and receptions, I was able to connect with my mentor, Dr. Kathleen Wyne. We sat down and discussed my aspirations, thoughts for new diabetes technology, and new ways to provide better care to patients. Not only was Dr. Wyne very friendly and informative, but she also showed me what it means to truly care about patients. In the weeks following my time at the ADA 79th Scientific Sessions, Dr. Wyne has helped connect me with multiple PA’s across the country. I have been able to both email and speak with these PA’s over the phone multiple times and have gained a greater understanding of the Physician Assistant profession as well as a sense of support from those who have done what I aspire to do. I could not be more thankful for CDN for selecting me to attend the ADA 79th Scientific Sessions, and all of the conference attendees I was able to meet and network with. My passion for type 1 diabetes and aspiration to become a Physician Assistant continues to be confirmed by the connections I was able to make.
Editor's note: The CDN NextGen program is sponsored by Sanofi and Lexicon. This program allows CDN members to attend various diabetes conferences with CDN staff, and be matched with mentors in their desired career fields.
Interested in becoming a mentor to CDN NextGen students? Email email@example.com.
If you're a young adult looking to go into the diabetes sector, applications for the NextGen program open in February. Keep an eye out!
Check out other NextGen student experiences at ADA here!