Diabetes health counselors play integral roles in helping individuals with diabetes to learn to manage their medical condition. Working in outpatient clinics or in acute care hospitals, the daily activities of these counselors include educating individuals with diabetes on medications, dietary intake, and stress management. Overall, diabetes health counselors provide front-line support to clients and families who are learning to manage diabetes.
Counseling on Medication Management
Diabetes health counselors must understand how medications affect the control of blood sugar by their clients. As such, many of the daily activities involve teaching clients how their medications impact their blood sugar and educating them on how much or how often to take these medications. It is important to remember, though, that not all all diabetes health counselors can prescribe diabetes medications. Nonetheless, they still need to understand how oral diabetes medications and insulin affect blood sugar control.
Counseling on Dietary Intake
An individual's diet can significantly impact their blood sugar control, thus diabetes health counselors often find themselves counseling individuals with diabetes on how to eat properly. These counselors may teach clients how to read nutrition labels, count carbohydrates or estimate diabetic exchanges. They may also find themselves teaching diabetes-friendly cooking classes or even creating healthy-eating education materials.
Counseling on Stress Management
Diabetic individuals with high stress levels often find themselves unable to control their blood sugar levels. In order to help these individuals manage their stressful lives, diabetes health counselors may provide psychological therapy or other stress-relieving techniques. In some cases, diabetes health counselors may conduct yoga or mind-body-control classes.
Working as a Diabetes Health Counselor
A typical diabetes health counselor will provide client education in an outpatient clinic or in an acute health care setting. One-on-one individual counseling sessions are commonly conducted, but these counselors also find themselves giving presentations to larger groups, including clients, family members and other health care professionals.
Dr. Courtney Winston is a registered/licensed dietitian, certified diabetes educator and public health educator. She holds a Master of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her doctoral degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center. Dr. Winston was recognized in 2012 with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Emerging Leader in Dietetics Award for the state of California.