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Staff Spotlight: Cheryl Barry, Diabetes Educator

Learn about the many benefits of participating in diabetes education

Date Posted: Monday, July 09, 2018

Cheryl Barry, RN, MS, CDE

Manager, Adult Diabetes Education Program, UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence
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.  It was there that she fell in love with the idea of helping people living with diabetes. 

She's married with two children.  Her husband’s job has moved them around, resulting in Cheryl working and helping people with diabetes at the following locations:

  • 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

- Cheryl and her husband live with their third rescue dog, Hobey (named after the college hockey Hobey Baker Memorial Award) 
- They're big fans of Boston College hockey
- Her biggest passions are spending time with family and helping people living with diabetes
- She loves to read, and particularly enjoyed the Harry Potter series
- Favorite TV Show: Jeopardy

Misconception about diabetes education

Many people think they'll have a “one and done” meeting/appointment with a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) or Registered Dietitian (RD).  The truth is, it is an ongoing process.  As “life happens” and things change, a CDE is available to help you develop a plan to successfully self-manage your diabetes.  They teach self-management, help with situational problem solving and offer emotional support.   

Where you should begin

People who are newly diagnosed with diabetes should take advantage of the DCOE workshop, “Diabetes 101.”  For best results, combine group workshops and individual sessions with a CDE, RD, and/or nutritionist.  Your physician and/or diabetes care team can provide a referral or more information.  An initial assessment will determine what areas to focus on when developing your individual 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.

Insurance coverage for diabetes education

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

What to expect at your initial appointment

Your assessment will concentrate on seven self-care behaviors that are essential for improved health status and greater quality of life for people with diabetes.  Healthy eating, being active, glucose monitoring (blood or sensor), taking medication, problem-solving, healthy coping and reducing risks.  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 the information, resources and tools to successfully self-manage diabetes based on your lifestyle, commitments and activities.

Benefits of diabetes education

Diabetes Education has been shown to lower A1c by as much as 1% (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 have received 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.

How often should you meet with a diabetes educator?

  • After your initial diagnosis, a CDE appointment or education workshop is very helpful to provide valuable information and tools during an overwhelming time in your life.  It's wise to schedule an annual appointment to assess where you are.
  • A CDE can be helpful during life transitions (moving from pediatric care to adult care, going off to college, living on your own for the first time, pregnancy, etc.)
  • Anytime you experience a new health complication (vision, dexterity, emotional health, etc.)
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