What professionals should I be choosing to help me manage my diabetes?

You may receive diabetes care from a primary care provider, an internist, a nurse practitioner, a physician assistant, or an endocrinologist or a diabetologist. If you see a diabetes specialist, you also need a primary care provider for your other healthcare needs. You may also want to find a diabetes educator, a dietitian and other healthcare specialists that you may call upon as needed. These specialists could include a pharmacist, an eye doctor, a podiatrist, a counselor (psychologist, social worker, or psychiatrist), and an exercise physiologist. Sometimes, diabetes professionals will already practice together in a center that specializes in diabetes care. Or your diabetes care provider may routinely work with some of these professionals. If not, you may have to assemble your own group. If your provider doesn’t have a diabetes nurse educator or dietitian on staff, ask him or her to recommend one, as well as other professionals you should have on your team.

It’s a plus if the members of your team are comfortable communicating with each other. That is often the case if they are recommended by your provider. But you should also pick team members that you feel comfortable with. Don’t be afraid to shop around a little and find the team members that best suit your needs. In assembling your team, don’t forget your fans—family and friends that will lend support, help, and understanding on a daily basis. They need to be prepared to deal with your day to-day routines—what time you test your blood glucose, for example. And you may also need their help should any emergency arise. Also, don’t forget community resources. Many hospitals and community health groups offer classes and support groups for people with diabetes. Here you can receive valuable information and answers to your questions about dealing with the disease. Class instructors and support group members may also be able to provide referrals to other healthcare professionals that specialize in diabetes care.

Dr. Ileen Craven
Nursing Specialist

It is very good to seek someone to assist you with your management of this disease. Remember, you are the most important element in the management of diabetes and that your willingness to improve your lifestyle depends on you with the assistance of your healthcare professional.

First, and foremost, ask your primary healthcare worker to see if you are eligible to attend a class about diabetes management. The are usually taught by Certified Diabetes Nurse Educators or Dieticians. Often you may bring someone with you (spouse, child, significant other, family member) and the two of you will work together.

I also recommend you visit the American Diabetes Association website ( An informed consumer is a healthy one. You are in charge of this diagnosis.

Many people seek out a primary care physician, nurse practitioner, Certified Nurse Diabetes Educator, or endocronologist about the management of diabetes. Work with who you feel the most comfortable with and have the best rapport with when visiting. Before visiting any health care professional write down questions. Write about what ever is on your mind. Often we forget to ask due to anxiety and the stress of visits to healthcare professionals.

Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Seek out professionals specializing in diabetes that you can relate to and trust. A healthcare team should include an endocrinologist, registered dietitian, diabetes educator and registered nurse. Many other specialists will be referred to you as well including a podiatrist, who will specialize in food care, and an ophthalmologist, a specialist in eye care.

A diabetic clinic may offer access and referral to many of the professionals in one visit.

Jessica Crandall
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

It is essential to understand diabetes and how to manage the disease. It can be very beneficial to work in conjunction with a registered dietitian, a certified diabetes educator, and in some cases a diabetes management team. These professionals can increase the effectiveness of diabetes self-management.

Nadine Pazder
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Diabetes is a disorder that is best managed by a team. Your primary care physician should start out by sending you to a diabetes self-management program. This is a 10-hour class where you will meet the nurse and registered dietitian diabetes educators. Your PCP may also refer you to a physician who specializes in diabetes called an "endocrinologist". You will also need yearly visits with a podiatrist (foot doctor), and ophthalmologist (eye doctor). If you have questions about your new medications you can always rely on your pharmacist.

Don't forget regular dental check-ups. Elevated blood glucose levels can feed bacteria in the mouth that cause periodontal disease. Your PCP will add other specialists as are needed. But since you are the person living with diabetes every day, you are the most important member of this team. If good control and prevention of complications is your goal be sure to keep your health appointments, get your questions answered, and follow their recommendations the best that you can.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.