Get to Know Your Diabetes Care Team
It may surprise you to learn that you are the most important member of your diabetes care team.
After all, you are the one who has diabetes and who lives with it every day. Only you know how you feel and what you are willing and able to do.
You make the choices for:
- When and how you take medicine or inject insulin, if prescribed
- When you check your blood sugar (blood glucose) and how you track the results
- What food you make and eat
- When and how often you exercise
And, of course, you are the first to notice any problems. Your diabetes care team depends on you to tell the truth about how you feel. You may work with many different kinds of health care providers who are part of your diabetes care team. These can include:
- Primary Care Provider (PCP): This doctor (MD or DO), nurse practitioner (NP) or physician assistant (PA) gives you routine medical care, including physical exams, lab tests and prescriptions for medication.
- Endocrinologist: This doctor (MD or DO) specializes in diabetes and other diseases of the endocrine system (the system that produces hormones such as insulin).
- Ophthalmologist or Optometrist: This doctor (MD/DO or OD), also known as an eye doctor, diagnoses and treats eye diseases and eye disorders.
- Podiatrist (DPM): This doctor, also known as a foot doctor, is trained to treat feet and lower leg problems.
- Pharmacist (PharmD): This professional knows about medicines, what’s in them and how they interact with each other.
- Dentist (DMD or DDS): This doctor knows about oral care and is trained to take care of your teeth and gums.
- Registered Nurse/Nurse Navigator (RN): A nurse working in your doctor’s office who helps coordinate your health care needs.
- Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RD/RDN): A dietitian is an expert in nutrition (what food your particular body needs to stay healthy). Talking to a registered dietitian nutritionist will help you use what you eat and drink as tools for managing your blood sugar.
- Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES): Previously known as Certified Diabetes Educators (CDEs), these are health care providers with extensive training and experience working with people with diabetes, and who have passed a credentialed board exam. They can help you figure out how to manage the things you need to do to take care of your diabetes, in a way that fits with your daily life, routines, environment and family dynamics. To work with an expert in a diabetes education program recognized by the American Diabetes Association, visit diabetes.org/findaprogram or call 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2383) to find a program in your community.
- Mental Health Professional: This person may be a psychiatrist (MD or DO), psychologist (PhD) or clinical social worker (LCSW or LISW). These professionals can help you deal with the day-to-day challenges of living with diabetes as well as more serious emotional issues. Be sure to work with a mental health professional who understands diabetes and the medicine and insulin you are taking that may affect your blood sugar.
- Fitness Professional: A physical activity specialist may be an exercise physiologist, personal trainer or physical therapist. These professionals can help you find exercises that are safe for you, and ensure you get the most out of your exercise program. Be sure to work with a fitness professional who understands diabetes and the medicine and insulin you are taking that may affect your blood sugar.
It is important to choose diabetes care team members who can provide the level of support you want and provide help when you need it. The more information you can give when you get help, the easier it is for someone to assist you. Be sure to write down questions and concerns to bring with you to your appointments.