Having a diabetes care team you can count on can make living with diabetes much less stressful. Assembling such a team, however, may require a significant amount of work on your part if you do not get your diabetes care at a clinic that uses a team approach, with members who are accustomed to collaborating. You will need to act as the captain of your team, assembling the necessary players, and making sure each plays his individual role, as well as works with the others for the common goal of achieving the best diabetes health possible for you.
Physician. Family physicians, doctors of internal medicine, and endocrinologists all manage diabetes. Any of these types of doctors may have an MD (medical doctor) or DO (doctor of osteopathic medicine) degree. Family physicians are specially trained in preventive medicine, while doctors of internal medicine (also called internists) have special training in the prevention and treatment of diseases of adults. Endocrinologists are internists with advanced, specialized training in the care of endocrine diseases, such as diabetes. Regardless of the type of physician you see, your doctor should be aware of – and practice – current standards of diabetes care. Some physicians may employ a physician assistant (PA) that will provide some of your diabetes care.
Nurse. Registered nurses (RNs) who specialize in diabetes care and education are active in helping people with diabetes learn about their condition in a variety of ways, including group education, individual counseling and skill training. Advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) can also prescribe medicines and sometimes serve as primary-care providers for people with diabetes.
Dietitian. Because nutrition is central to diabetes management, you will want to work with a registered dietitian (RD) who specializes in diabetes. Dietitians with expertise in diabetes may be able to provide education and training in other areas of your diabetes treatment plan, beyond food choices and meal planning.
Pharmacist. Pharmacists fill prescriptions and 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. Many pharmacists specialize in diabetes care and provide education in group settings, as well as individual counseling. Pharmacists may have the credential registered pharmacist (RPh) or doctor of pharmacy (PharmD).
Mental Health Professional. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed by having to cope with your diabetes (or other life circumstances), a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist (MD), psychologist (PhD), or clinical social worker (CSW) may be able to help. These professionals can provide psychotherapy – talk therapy to help you get insight into your problems, learn better coping techniques, and take constructive action – and psychiatrists can additionally prescribe drugs such as antidepressants or antianxiety medicines, if deemed useful.