Registered pharmacist. Most people are familiar with pharmacists as the professionals who dispense medicines in pharmacies. Pharmacists also practice in other settings such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, and clinics. Some pharmacists are also involved with drug research, either in a laboratory or in a clinical setting.
In recent years, many pharmacists who interact with the public have gotten additional training in diabetes care and management. Many have even become certified diabetes educators, and some offer diabetes classes or one-on-one educational sessions in local pharmacies.
Pharmacists can help you manage your drug therapy, identify potentially harmful interactions among the drugs and over-the-counter products you use, and often answer questions about insurance reimbursement for your medicines and diabetes supplies. If possible, it’s a good idea to purchase all of your prescription drugs from the same pharmacy. That way, your records are all in one place, and it’s easier for a pharmacist to spot any potential problems.
Mental health professional. Living with any chronic condition can be stressful, and diabetes is no exception. In fact, people with diabetes have a higher incidence of depression than the general population, and depression is often linked to stress. If you feel overwhelmed, lost, stuck, or depressed, it’s worth seeking the services of a mental health professional. Talking with a licensed practitioner can help you figure out why you feel that way and what you can do about it.
Several types of professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, and clinical social workers, offer psychotherapy (or “talk” therapy). The type of practitioner you see is less important than the relationship you have with that person and the sense that meeting with that person is having a positive effect on how you feel and behave.
Specialty team players
Your primary health-care provider may refer you to a specialist because you’ve developed a condition that requires special care or simply for specialized screenings. How often you should see these and other specialists depends on your health status and your medical needs.
Podiatrist. If you have a foot problem such as a corn, a bunion, or even toenails that are difficult to trim, your primary-care provider may refer you to a podiatrist. Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (DPMs) are physicians and surgeons whose scope of practice is limited to the feet and usually the ankles. Even if you currently have no foot problems, you may be advised to see a podiatrist periodically to have your feet screened for early signs of diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage) or other foot problems common to people with diabetes. (Your primary-care provider should also conduct regular foot checkups.)
For people with neuropathy or reduced blood circulation to the feet, a podiatrist may be a very important team member. People with these problems are at high risk of developing foot ulcers. A podiatrist can advise you on choosing socks and shoes that will help prevent foot problems, prescribe special shoes to protect vulnerable feet from damage that could lead to a foot ulcer, and treat any wounds or other problems that do develop.
Ophthalmologist. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in eye and vision care and is specially trained to provide the full spectrum of eye care, from prescribing glasses and contact lenses to performing eye surgery. Some are also involved in scientific research into the causes of and cures for eye diseases and vision problems.