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Diabetes Education Offers Many Benefits

Staff Spotlight: Cheryl Barry, RN, CDE, Manager of Adult Diabetes Education Program

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Benefits of meeting with a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

Diabetes education has been shown to lower A1c and blood glucose (similar to adding a medication but without the side effects). The ADA, AADE and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics say research shows that people who receive diabetes education are more likely to utilize primary care and preventative services, take medications as prescribed, and control their blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. As a result, those people reportedly have lower health costs.

Misconception about diabetes education

Many people think they'll have a “one and done” meeting/appointment with a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES) or Registered Dietitian (RD). However, it's an ongoing relationship. As “life happens” and circumstances change, a CDCES is available to help you develop a plan to successfully self-manage your diabetes. They'll provide help with situational problem solving and offer emotional support.

Where to begin

People who are newly diagnosed with diabetes or have never before received diabetes education should take advantage of our DCOE workshop, “Diabetes 101.” For best results, combine group workshops and individual sessions with a CDCES, RD, and/or nutritionist. Your physician and/or diabetes care team can provide a referral or more information. The initial assessment will determine which areas to focus on when developing your individual diabetes self-management success plan.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) and American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) recommend at least 10 hours of diabetes education. More than half of the people diagnosed with diabetes have not taken advantage of the benefits of diabetes education.

What to expect during your initial visit

Your initial assessment by a CDCES will concentrate on seven self-care behaviors that are essential for improved health and greater quality of life for people living with diabetes. Healthy eating, physical activity, glucose monitoring (blood or sensor), medication, problem-solving, healthy coping and reducing risk of complications. The use of patient generated health data from monitoring is encouraged to help with problem solving, coping and risk reduction. Your personalized plan will provide information, resources and tools to successfully self-manage diabetes based on your lifestyle, commitments and activities.

Insurance coverage for diabetes education

Most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover up to 10 hours of diabetes education during the first year of diagnosis. Medicare also pays for 2 hours of yearly follow-up. Commercial insurance offers similar benefits. Contact your insurance provider for specific coverage information.

How often should you meet with a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist?

  • After an initial diagnosis of diabetes, a one-on-one CDCES appointment or education workshop will provide valuable information, resources and tools. It's wise to schedule an annual visit to assess where you are.
  • A CDCES can be helpful during life transitions (moving from pediatric care to adult care, leaving for college, living on your own for the first time, pregnancy, etc.)
  • When experiencing a new health complication (vision issues, nerve damage, dexterity problems, emotional health, etc.)

Staff Spotlight: Cheryl Barry, RN, MS, CDCES

cheryl-barry-diabetes-education-umassManager, Adult Diabetes Education Program
BA in Nursing from Beloit College in Wisconsin
BS in Nursing from Rush University in Chicago
Master’s in Parent & Child Nursing from Rush University

As an undergraduate, Cheryl worked for a summer at the Joslin Camp for boys with diabetes in Charlton, MA. That was where she fell in love with the idea of helping people living with diabetes. 

Cheryl is married with two children. Her husband’s job has moved them around, resulting in her working and helping people with diabetes at:

  • University of Chicago Diabetes Research and Training Center - Pediatrics Unit
  • Children’s Hospital in Seattle, WA – Diabetes and Endocrinology
  • Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston – Director of Adult Education
  • Southern New Hampshire Medical Center

- Their third rescue dog, Hobey, is named after the college hockey Hobey Baker Memorial Award  
- Cheryl and her husband are big fans of Boston College hockey
- Her biggest passions are spending time with family and helping people manage diabetes
- She loves to read, and particularly enjoyed the Harry Potter series
- Favorite TV Show: Jeopardy (her daughter was a contestant in 2019)

More UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence Staff Spotlights

Victoria Andersen - Clinical Nutritionist & Diabetes Educator

Rachael Armenti - Pediatric Nurse & Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

Taylor Boudreau - Nurse Practitioner

Fernanda Costa - Adult Diabetes Educator

Elizabeth Dickinson - Inpatient Diabetes Nurse Practitioner

Lindsey Gurry - Inpatient Nurse Practitioner & Diabetes Educator

Christine Hoogasian - Nurse Practitioner

Stella Lopez - Health Psychologist

Nicole Sauve - Child Life Specialist

Nancy Sidhom - Nurse Practitioner & Diabetes Educator

Jessin Varghese - Inpatient Diabetes Nurse Practitioner

Alicia Warnock - Endocrinologist