Kacey's Experience at AADE19: Networking & Meeting her Mentor

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Kacey Creel, Stephen F. Austin State University

A Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) (or now known as Diabetes Care and Education Specialist) is a health care provider that cares for people with diabetes in the totality of the patient. This goes much deeper than just looking at an A1C and changing a basal rate based on numbers. In my eyes, a CDE is a nurse, dietitian, and counselor in one. They dedicate a huge portion of their practice to helping people with diabetes to be as healthy and happy as possible, and this is exactly the reason why I am working towards obtaining my CDE. 

There was no better place to help solidify this career goal than the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) Conference. The College Diabetes Network surpassed expectations as always with the opportunities they strive to provide for their members; they brought seven young adult leaders to Houston as part of their NextGen Leadership program to attend the conference. This program is set up to help these students be immersed in situations that will enhance their career opportunities in the diabetes field. As a NextGen leader, we help staff the booth during the event, attend various meetings, and listen to amazing speakers in sessions that cover a wide range of topics, such as mental health, nutrition, and new technology.

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NextGen leaders are also paired with a mentor through the National Certification Board of Diabetes Educators (NCBDE). I was paired with an amazing, energetic, and outgoing RD stationed in Chicago named Barbara Eichorst. Barbara works in the field of digital therapeutics, which I had never heard of before the conference. Digital therapeutics is simply health care providers using certain technologies to help their patients manage their diabetes. An example of this would be insulin titration apps. During the conference she focused a huge portion of her time on a podcast she is working on. I was able to tag along while she interviewed five people who are making a huge difference in the diabetes community. Through this, I was able to learn about a new Masters of Diabetes program at Texas College through Columbia. This program is catered to health care providers who want to increase their knowledge of diabetes management for their patients. You can either apply to obtain the Masters of Science in Diabetes Education and Management or if you hold a master's degree already, you can get a certificate in Advanced Diabetes Topics. Through my mentor, I was also able to sit down with Anna Norton, CEO of Diabetes Sisters. Diabetes Sisters is an organization with peer support groups focused on supporting women with diabetes. This is such a great resource especially for young adult women with diabetes. I look forward to leaning on Barbara as I'm going through the steps to become an RD and CDE. 

At this conference, I spent the majority of my time talking with people who are currently CDEs and networking to see the different opportunities I could take hold of. CDN set up multiple events to the leaders do just that. On the first night of the conference, we went to the NCBDE reception. This was a place where NextGen leaders and a crowd of CDEs were able to mingle and network. Everyone I talked with was very excited for us leaders. We are the future of diabetes care and these professionals are more than thrilled to help lead the way for us. they offered advice about what they learned along the path to becoming a CDE, and I even heard them offer internships to some leaders. I also noticed them handing out their business cards left and right to be able to stay in contact with the leaders that they met. 

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The next night we held a CDN reception for parents who have children with T1D  who are going to be going off to college in the near future. We were able to share our experience to help ease their worries a little bit. Through this, I was able to meet two fellow Lumberjacks from Stephen F. Austin State University! The people I met even offered for the CDN Chapter I am president of there to have a booth at a JDRF walks this coming semester. 

At this conference, I was presented with so many vast opportunities that I don't even know where to start. I do know that without CDN my eyes would not have been opened to the career paths out there in the diabetes field. I arrived at the conference knowing I wanted to work somewhere in this field and I left with a little bit better of an understanding of what I could do to help contribute to our community. If you are looking into giving care to people with diabetes I would highly suggest reaching out to CDN to see how they can help you reach your goals. They will be able to help you pinpoint exactly where you would like to go and they will do everything in their power to help you get there.

Editor's note: the CDN NextGen program is possible through the support of NCBDE, Lexicon Pharmaceuticals, and Sanofi.

Read the rest of the NextGen Leader experiences at AADE and other conferences here!

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Kacey Creel
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Kacey is a food and nutrition major with a minor in Spanish coming up on her senior year at Stephen F. Austin State University. She is working to become a registered dietitian with a certification in diabetes education. She is the founder and president of the Chapter of the College Diabetes Network at SFASU since Spring 2017. Diabetes has been a big part of my life since 2002. She was diagnosed with T1D in 2002 and never let it stop her. She was able to receive her first bachelors in 3 in a half years while helping her softball team win 2 conference champions. She hopes to use this mindset to motivate other T1D’s to do whatever they want to do!