AADE 2017: Creating Certainty in a Future Profession

Claudia Lewis, The Ohio State University '19

When I was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at age 12, I was very afraid and felt alone. I only knew of one person with T1D, and I had no clue what my life would entail after this diagnosis. Luckily, in the hospital, the certified diabetes educator (CDE) had T1D too! The person who was teaching me how to carb count, give injections, balance insulin and exercise, and so much more, knew exactly what it was like to live with T1D. She had gone to college, gotten married, and had a child! It was from this moment when I first met my CDE that I knew life with diabetes could be lived to the fullest.

Over the years, I avoided the thought of becoming a CDE. I didn’t want my job to have anything to do with diabetes since I live with it each day. I opened up to the idea a little more in college, but I was still unsure of whether or not I wanted to work in the diabetes field until I went to the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) conference. My experience there was so fulfilling, uplifting, and meaningful, that I left with a goal: to do whatever I have to do to become a CDE.

I was a little nervous initially going to the AADE conference, because I had never been to a conference before. It turned out to be a wonderful experience full of new friends, new ideas, and connections. I learned so much in just a few days! CDN had a booth in the exhibit hall, so all of the CDN representatives took turns staffing it and letting the attendees know what CDN is all about. The CDEs who came to our table were so impressed and grateful for the resources that CDN provides for their patients, which was so great to see.

When I was not working at the booth, I was able to walk around the exhibit hall and attend sessions. I spent HOURS in the exhibit hall learning about new products; in fact, I actually met with someone who is helping me get a new pump! I also enjoyed listening to the speakers at various sessions. One of the most meaningful sessions that I went to was about type 1 diabetes and mental health, and the need to see beyond A1C. I also went to a session on how to become a CDE, which was very helpful because now I want that as my future profession.

Each night, we had a reception, which was amazing for networking. Not only did we meet CDEs and people who work for diabetes companies such as Insulet (the makers of Omnipod) and Lilly, we also had a chance to bond with our mentors. Each of the attendees were paired with two mentors, which were invaluable and taught of us a lot based on their own experiences as a CDE. 

My whole reasoning for not becoming a CDE was because I did not want to get sick of diabetes. However, after being at this conference for four days I left wanting to know more. I was constantly learning, and the CDEs that I met cared so much about helping improve the lives of people living with diabetes. It was then that I realized helping others live their best lives with diabetes is something I definitely want to be a part of.

 

 

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The College Diabetes Network (CDN) is a 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is to provide innovative peer based programs which connect and empower students and young professionals to thrive with diabetes.

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