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Staff Spotlight: Elizabeth Dickinson, Inpatient Diabetes Care

UMass Memorial is revolutionizing diabetes care for all hospital patients living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes

Elizabeth Dickinson, MS, FNP-C

- Inpatient Nurse Practitioner, UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Master’s degree in Nursing from Boston College
- Working on her doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree from UMass Amherst.

When she was a student, Liz's preceptor was a diabetes specialist. While working with him she became interested in diabetes patient management. Her professional interests include promoting overall wellness and prevention, providing information and treatment plans in an achievable manner, and working with a culturally diverse population.

- Originally from Plymouth, Liz currently lives in Boston. 
- Favorite Television Series: Stranger Things
- Favorite Movies: Hairspray, My Big Fat Greek Wedding
- Hobbies: Kickboxing, cooking, scenic walks
- Favorite Restaurant: Legal Seafood
- Favorite Author: David Sedaris

The Problem

One third of hospitalized patients have diabetes. Some will visit the emergency room or be admitted to the hospital for hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Other symptoms include excessive thirst/dehydration, frequent urination, and weight loss. These people may become diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes for the first time. Many others will already have diabetes, and are undergoing a surgery or procedure, or are being treated for another chronic illness or complication from diabetes.

Our Focus

Our goal is to improve the blood glucose control of all people living with diabetes, no matter why they were admitted to the hospital or emergency room. The UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence adult inpatient care team works with primary care physicians and other specialists to make diabetes care recommendations during their hospital stay.   

New Diabetes Diagnosis

Our adult inpatient care team works closely with people getting diagnosed with diabetes for the first time, ensuring they learn everything necessary to leave the hospital with “diabetes survival skills.” We make sure the transition back home is smooth, by coordinating all medication prescriptions and follow-up appointments.

Challenges

Medication and treatment options are often based on the health insurance benefits of the person being treated. Our team provides the best possible course of action within the allowable coverage. They discuss cost and options with each person to determine medication and treatment that can be adhered to for successful diabetes management.

Frustrations

Some people cannot afford medications so they don’t fill prescriptions. By not following their treatment plan and taking prescribed medications and/or insulin, their blood glucose levels remain out of target range. Neglecting diabetes often leads to serious health complications including heart disease, stroke, diabetic eye disease, neuropathy, and in some cases, amputations of limbs. 

Inpatient Diabetes Education

The inpatient Blood Glucose Management Service collaborates with other hospital staff to provide diabetes education. People are taught to check blood sugar using a blood glucose meter, and how to treat low blood sugar. Our team preaches the importance of achieving and maintaining a healthy blood glucose and A1c.    

People living with diabetes, no matter what brought them to the hospital or ER, receive the most up to date treatment options and educational resources, including insulin training. We teach them with their own meters, pumps and insulin delivery methods.

Follow-up Care

We work with primary care physicians, or if necessary, help people to identify one. Our inpatient diabetes care team arranges all follow-up care needed after the hospital stay. Priot to returning home, all necessary follow-up outpatient appointments are scheduled.