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November is National Diabetes Month!

To support National Diabetes Month this November, the NDEP and its partners want people to Be Smart About Your Heart: Control the ABCs of Diabetes

More than 29 million Americans have diabetes, and it is estimated that one in every four people with diabetes does not even know they have the disease. If left undiagnosed or untreated, diabetes can lead to serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke.

The good news is that people with diabetes can lower their chances of having diabetes-related heart problems by managing their Diabetes ABCs.

  • A is for the A1C test (A-one-C). This is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar (glucose) level over the past three months.
  • B is for Blood pressure.
  • C is for Cholesterol.
  • S is for stopping smoking.

NDEP offers many resources to help people with diabetes take important steps to stay healthy and prevent diabetes-related heart problems. For more information, as well as promotional tools you can use to promote National Diabetes Month in your community visit

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November Partner Spotlight

Outgoing Executive Committee Chair Reflects on NDEP’s Past Achievements, Future Possibilities

Partner Spotlight: Dr. John Buse

As he concludes his term as the National Diabetes Education Program’s (NDEP) Executive Committee Chair, Dr. John Buse says the federal program’s most important recent achievement is one that holds the greatest promise for its future: the NDEP Strategic Plan.

The five-year plan kicked off this year and is the result of work that NDEP’s Strategic Planning Task Group began in September 2012. NDEP’s Executive Committee, which Dr. Buse began chairing earlier that same year, challenged the task group to identify clear areas of focus for the next five years in areas where NDEP’s strengths could help make a significant difference in diabetes outcomes.

The Strategic Plan is most notable for shifting the NDEP’s primary focus from delivering health messages directly to the general public to improving the NDEP’s engagement with partner organizations representing health care professionals, including community health workers and community-based organizations. And Dr. Buse—who earned both his M.D. and Ph.D. at Duke University—says that shift has “turned the NDEP on its head.” Even so, he says the ambitious plan is “doable.” Partner Spotlight: Dr. John BuseAs he explains, NDEP’s budget and personnel are considerably smaller than the budgets and resources of the nation’s pharmaceutical companies and device-makers, and many U.S. health care systems are able to spend more on diabetes education and engagement than the NDEP. That’s why the Strategic Plan’s emphasis on engaging partners—which the Strategic Plan defines in a broad sense as any organization or institution interested in improving diabetes care for their constituents or members—is so important.

“The NDEP in the past developed amazing materials, but my hope is in the future we will really serve much more of a role as a catalyst and curator,” Dr. Buse says. “If there are materials out there, we’ll find them. If there are not, we’ll make sure someone else helps us develop them—if we don’t develop them ourselves.”

In addition to leading the NDEP’s Executive Committee, Dr. Buse is also Chair of NDEP’s Medication Adherence Task Group, which will organize and consolidate information and tools to support health care professionals and community-based organizations in improving medication adherence among people with diabetes. According to Dr. Buse, the success of the Medication Adherence Task Group depends largely on shared decision-making in the patient-provider relationship. One of Dr. Buse’s most memorable examples of the importance of shared decision-making came in the late 1980s, when a patient chastised him after he lectured her on smoking. That made him realize not to tell the patient what to do, but rather to learn what the patient is already doing and then provide options and treatment strategies while developing a shared understanding of what the patient and provider can do together.

“Think coach, not drill sergeant,” Dr. Buse says. “It’s not the algorithms; it’s not the pamphlets; it’s not the drugs. It’s the relationship that’s most important.”

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September Partner Spotlight

NDEP Materials a Valuable Tool in Alabama’s Schools, Senior Centers & Prisons

Partner Spotlight: Diabetes Prevention and Control Program, Alabama Department of Public Health

Ask anyone in the Alabama public health department’s Diabetes Prevention and Control Program (DPCP) and they’ll tell you the NDEP’s Road to Health toolkit has lived up to its name, serving as a map to help educate Alabamans about diabetes in schools, senior centers, and prisons throughout the state.

Intended especially for African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos at risk for type 2 diabetes, the Road to Heath toolkit provides materials for community health workers to develop an outreach program that emphasizes type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented. Debra Griffin, the DPCP’s diabetes nurse educator, says Road to Heath is most effective for its simple, three-pronged message about healthy food choices, exercise and weight loss.

Partner Spotlight: Diabetes Prevention and Control Program, Alabama Department of Public Health
Students in the Diabetes Ambassador Program at Resurrection Catholic School with LaMont Pack (far left) and school principal Sr. Gail Trippett in March 2014

In the last year and a half, DPCP staff members have hosted Road to Health sessions at 15 senior centers, where they educated about 355 residents. And they trained employees at the Alabama Office of Minority Health, who, in turn, led a Road to Health course at four prisons.

LaMont Pack, the DPCP’s community-clinical linkages manager, says he’s also visited “churches that you can’t get to with a GPS” to spread the word about how to prevent and manage diabetes.

“The things you do to prevent diabetes are the same things you do to prevent its complications: nutrition and physical activity,” Pack says.

Meanwhile, Pack and his staff have used other NDEP resources to educate the younger generation about diabetes and its effects. In March, Montgomery, Ala.-based Resurrection Catholic School implemented the Diabetes Ambassador Program, in which seven student ambassadors educated their peers, teachers, school staff members, and parents about diabetes prevention. The students wore Blue Circle pins from the International Diabetes Federation to promote the global symbol for diabetes, and on March 25—Diabetes Alert Day—the school’s principal allowed students to wear the color blue (instead of their required uniforms) to raise awareness about diabetes.

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August Partner Spotlight

NDEP Resources Help Dentist Dr. Martin Gillis Urge People to Make the Oral Health-Diabetes Connection

Partner Spotlight: Dr. Kevin Peterson

As a dentist with type 1 diabetes, Dr. Martin Gillis not only brings first-hand experience of the disease to his role as a healthcare provider, he also understands that the best care for people with diabetes should come from a team of healthcare professionals who provide dental, podiatric, optometric and pharmacy (PPOD) services.

The National Diabetes Education Program’s (NDEP) resources have helped Dr. Gillis educate patients with diabetes and their healthcare providers around the world. Specifically, he has incorporated NDEP PPDOD information in his lectures on diabetes and oral health at the International Diabetes Foundation’s World Diabetes Congress and World Dental Federation’s World Dental Congress. Last year, Dr. Gillis received the Sir Alister McIntyre Distinguished Award for Integrative Medicine at the University Diabetes Outreach Program’s International Diabetes Conference in Jamaica, his achievements were profiled in the American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Forecast.

Partner Spotlight: Dr. Kevin Peterson“Oral disease needs to be related to the broad NCD (non-communicable disease) agenda by addressing how improvements in oral health will positively affect general well-being for a healthier society,” says Gillis, who serves as the registrar at the Provincial Dental Board of Nova Scotia in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “The connection between diabetes and oral disease does not exclusively reside in the relationship between periodontal disease and glycemic control, but extends to common modifiable risk factors such as poor nutrition, and the need to prevent and control diabetes and oral disease by building positive health behaviours through self-efficacy.”

Dr. Gillis will continue to lend his expertise to NDEP when he presents on team care and oral health and diabetes in the upcoming PPOD webinars, Working Together to Manage Diabetes: Tools and Strategies for Pharmacy, Podiatry, Optometry, and Dentistry. Click here for more information.

“To make positive change, we must foster partnerships among all stakeholders to reduce the social and economic burdens of oral disease and diabetes,” Gillis says. “I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to serve the National Diabetes Education Program in its valuable work to improve the lives of people with diabetes.”

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July Partner Spotlight

NDEP Resources Help Primary Care Physician Dr. Kevin Peterson Deliver Patient-Centered Care

Partner Spotlight: Dr. Kevin Peterson

For primary care physician Dr. Kevin Peterson, the National Diabetes Education Program’s (NDEP) resources serve the dual purpose of helping him educate his patients and meeting health reform’s goal of patient-centered care.

And Peterson—who has worked with diabetes patients since 1991—says that’s an important message for other primary care providers, not just because these clinicians treat so many diabetes patients, but also because this patient population now has better access to information about how to manage their disease. By his estimate, there are about 220,000 primary care providers and only about 4,000 endocrinologists, and diabetes is one of the most common diseases that a primary care provider sees.

“NDEP has always been good at understanding the importance of both the patient and the extended health care team,” Peterson says. “I think that the importance of that extended team is only increasing and getting larger. As that happens, it’s essential for the care to remain patient-centered.”

Partner Spotlight: Dr. Kevin Peterson Through the years, Peterson has used NDEP’s resources to develop a maintenance-of-certification module for the American Academy of Family Physicians. And currently he uses NDEP materials—particularly those translated into multiple languages—for the “After Your Visit” summary that he’s required to submit for the federal government’s electronic health records incentive program. He’s especially excited about the Practice Transformation group, which he sees as an opportunity to help primary care providers keep pace with the rapidly changing U.S. health care environment.

“The speed of transformation just continues to accelerate with the introduction of accountable care and the many different models that are being proposed for reimbursement,” Peterson says, adding that regardless of the political landscape, having health care providers share financial risk and understand who their patients are will serve as a support for diabetes and all chronic diseases. “The transformation of care will continue to happen. We will be focusing more on support of diabetes outside of the practice and providing people with the tools of self-management that we did in the olden days when we waited for them to show up outside our door.”

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