The opportunity to attend ADA, thanks to CDN’s Nextgen program, was an opportunity of a lifetime. The conference allowed me to make many new connections, including with 5 other young adults who aspire to enter the diabetes healthcare field, my mentor and other innovators in diabetes patient care and technology. Before coming to the conference, I already had an interest in working with high school teens, college students and young adults with T1D, and eventually becoming a certified diabetes educator (CDE). My plan was to attend PA school, and then become a CDE, but after experiencing ADA I am considering other possible routes to becoming a CDE. I attended sessions that focused on diabetes burnout and provider strategies for patient care to this age group. The information I learned at these sessions will be very applicable to my future career.
I applied to the conference because of my interest in diabetes research, and desire to be a CDE in the future. As part of the conference, each student is paired with a mentor that has a career that is similar to what the are interested in. I am currently in the process of applying to PA school, but after the conference I am thinking about also applying to masters of nursing programs. My mentor had her PhD in nursing, was a nursing professor and did research in the area of young adults and diabetes. She herself is a professor for an accelerated nursing program, and director of a diabetes camp for kids. My mentor’s advice, and attending the sessions opened my eyes to all the different paths I could possibly take in health care to get where I want to be. If you are a biology major, and want to go into healthcare, but not go to medical school, you may understand my dilemma of what path to take. My mentor told me the details of both master of nursing and nurse practitioner programs. I learned I can enter the accelerated masters of nursing program, and take a lot of different paths. I could potentially go into nurse management, research, specialties or be an RN anywhere a traditional BSN works. This program is nice because in less than two years I could be working as an RN, and could start studying to be a certified diabetes educator. I had researched the different nursing programs, but it was nice to have someone explain all the programs and hear about her career path. In addition, some programs have NP programs attached and you can go directly on to be an NP, or start working and go back a few years later.
In addition to my mentor's advice, seeing the different providers present their research made me realize there are many different health care professionals involved in research.
Post-conference I am still trying to decide on the best career for me, but it was a great opportunity to connect with a professional that works in the diabetes world.
I also had additional networking opportunities with important people in the diabetes world at various conference events. It was great to gain skills in speaking to other professionals. My favorite networking opportunity was the Livongo reception. Here, I was able to speak with a recent graduate of PA school and a diabetes educator. The PA told me how he wanted to eventually open his own clinic, which I had no idea you could actually do as a PA. This conference was a wonderful opportunity, and I am very glad to have attended because I was able to think through my future career by seeing other individuals live out theirs. This conference has definitely made me think about my future, and I have my PA application complete for next cycle, but maybe also applying to masters of nursing programs as I have a change in how I may want to arrive at my end goal of becoming a CDE.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!