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January 30, 2008 > Diabetes from the Doctor's Perspective

Diabetes from the Doctor's Perspective

Diabetes Education Class Addresses Issues from an Internist's Point of View

Many different medical specialists may play a role in providing care for patients who have diabetes - from podiatrists to ophthalmologists - but often it is the internal medicine specialist, called an "internist," who treats diabetes from a global perspective.
Not to be confused with medical interns, internists are physicians who have completed their medical schooling, as well as at least three years of postgraduate training dedicated to learning how to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases that affect adults.
Doctors in this specialty are often considered the detectives of the medical community, responsible for sifting through medical clues to better understand and treat unusual presentations of both common and infrequently occurring diseases.
Another important role of the internist is to treat patients with chronic medical conditions that don't have a "cure," but can be managed through doctors' care and patient diligence. Conditions such as this may include hypertension, hyperlipidemia, degenerative arthritis, congestive heart failure, chronic pulmonary disease, renal disease, cerebrovascular disease and degenerative, rheumatoid arthritis - and diabetes mellitus.
An internist's perspective
Members of the community who have diabetes and their family members will have the opportunity to hear from Dr. Vanessa Wilson, a Washington Hospital Medical Staff internist, on Thursday, February 7 during an upcoming Diabetes Matters presentation titled: Caring for Diabetes: An Internist's Perspective.
Dr. Wilson will talk in depth about caring for diabetes from her perspective as a medical internist.
"I plan to discuss some of the criteria involved in diagnosing diabetes and I'll talk about initial treatment options and medication options for diabetes patients," says Wilson. "People with diabetes need to be informed ahead of time about any complications associated with medications and I will describe the different classes of diabetes medications in great detail at the upcoming presentation."
Many different components come into play when looking at diabetes care. Unlike other diseases, in which patients may play a relatively minor role in their treatment, diabetes care requires active participation on the part of both patient and caregiver. Very often, patients with diabetes will work closely with their internist, who may serve as gatekeeper and primary care provider.
"As an internist, my goal is to anticipate the possible complications of diabetes such as blindness, stroke or heart attack before they occur," says Wilson. "My goal is to educate people about the risk factors associated with diabetes and help steer patients toward a treatment plan that best fits their individual needs."
Different areas of care and management that must be identified and addressed - sometimes internists may work with other medical specialists in these areas - include:
* Controlling blood pressure
* Foot examinations
* Eye examinations
* Glycemic control
* Controlling cholesterol levels
* Renal evaluation
* Prevention and treatment of nerve damage
* Nutrition and exercise
* Weight management
* Quitting smoking

Internists may be the gatekeepers for care when it comes to diabetes care, but daily self-management by patients - including close blood sugar monitoring and attention to diet and exercise - is an essential element to managing a disease that cannot be cured. An important part of that self-management is gaining the knowledge and tools, like those offered through the upcoming Diabetes Matters presentation, to better manage the disease.

Diabetes Services for the community
Washington Hospital's Outpatient Diabetes Program offers a wealth of resources and services for members of the community, including Diabetes Matters, a free, monthly diabetes education class with expert speakers (for the first hour), and group discussion (for the last hour). No registration is required for the Diabetes Matters class or group discussion.

In 2007, <<Washington Hospital's Outpatient Diabetes Program received the prestigious American Diabetes Association Education Recognition Certificate for a quality diabetes self-management education program. The association's Education Recognition Certificate assures that educational programs meet the national standards for quality diabetes self-management education programs.

Washington Hospital's Outpatient Diabetes Program is located at 1860 Mowry Avenue., Suite 200. To learn more about other services and programs available through the Outpatient Diabetes Program, call (510) 745-6556 or visit, click on "Services & Programs" and select "Diabetes Services" from the drop-down menu.

What: Diabetes Matters Presentation
Topic: Caring for Diabetes: An Internist's Perspective
When: Thursday, Feb. 7, 7 to 9 p.m.
Where: Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium (Washington West, 2500 Mowry)
Call: (510) 745-6556 for more information

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