The Diligence of a Diabetes Educator

This holiday season we are especially grateful to an unsung group of clinicians at the Berrie Center who work tirelessly each day on behalf of our patients. We’re talking about our Certified Diabetes Educators (CDEs)—Ericka Arrecis, Amanda Kirpitch and Courtney Melrose (on the adult team) and Emily Casciano, Cara Hass and Courtney Sahn, who work with children. 

Self-care is the cornerstone of diabetes management and it is the Diabetes Educator who is charged with not only teaching patients how to fully take care of their own diabetes—but to empower them to live the best lives they possibly can. If you are a parent of a child with diabetes, it is the Diabetes Educator who equips you with the skills it takes to care for diabetes, and then teach your children well enough to do the same.

A Certified Diabetes Educator is often a Registered Nurse (RN) or Registered Dietician (RD) with an additional 1,000 hours of hands-on training in diabetes self-care.  Always able to answer your questions, analyze your data, anticipate your needs, a CDE is your advocate, your guardian angel, your first-responder, coach and even therapist. Not surprising says Emily Casciano, who is the William R. Berkeley III Pediatric Diabetes Educator—the work is never done:  

“I will always have some new little bit of information to teach a family, and then deliver it on a level they can absorb, take home and put into practice.” Still, added Emily, the job is also challenging, fast-paced and extremely rewarding. “You can make a big difference in someone’s life in a relatively short period of time.”

CDE Courtney Sahn made such a big difference in the life of Conner Andrews who has type 1 diabetes (T1D), that his mother Lourdes said, “she has become another family member. She truly cares for Conner and for our family. She is a ray of sunshine in a dark storm.” Said Conner, “Courtney makes it easier for me to live with diabetes. I love her. She is funny and nice.”

“We are in awe of the Diabetes Educators and all that they do to assure the well being of our patients,” said Berrie Center Co-Director, Robin Goland, MD, the J. Merrill Eastman Clinical Professor of Diabetes at Columbia. “We give thanks for their hard work and diligence. It is hard to imagine our world without them.”  

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