Does your doctor know enough about diabetes to really offer you the best care and up-to-date treatment options?

This may sound like an impertinent question for those of us who see specialists in the field — endrocrinologists and diabetologists. But the fact is that up to 50% or more of Americans with diabetes see a “primary care physician,” who treats all manner of ailments and honestly cannot be expected to know every nuance of daily struggles with diabetes.

A new program just launched out of UC San Francisco (UCSF) is utilizing online videos to address this disconnect. It aims to teach the basics of diabetes to primary care physicians and other medical professionals, to fill them in on the challenges of D-life and management and the core topics that must be addressed in order to help patients succeed.

This self-paced certificate program makes a panel of nationally-recognized interdisciplinary experts available to doctors via video content that includes 30 continuing medical education (CME) units.

“We hope this online program will improve the care of tens of thousands of people with diabetes by getting their medical team up to speed with the complex and changing nature of diabetes by learning from nationally-recognized experts,” the UCSF founders said in the press announcement.

This pro education program is especially timely this week, as the big annual diabetes educators’ conference hosted by the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) actually kicks off in Baltimore, MD, today. Our own Amy Tenderich is on the scene taking part in a panel on the value of peer support, and we’ll also be following along on social media via hashtag #AADE18.


Training Diabetes Professionals with Humor and Grace

One of the leaders behind this new program is Theresa Garnero, a mover-and-shaker in the diabetes space who’s been a nurse and CDE (certified diabetes educator) for more than three decades. She’s a preeminent authority on diabetes, a prolific diabetes cartoonist, former jazz pianist and a national hopeful figure skater (seriously!). Her approach to diabetes education always includes humor, because “laughing improves glucose control, except when eating french fries…” she says.

Garnero was the force behind the Dance Out Diabetes non-profit founded in 2010 that lasted for about five years, inviting people with diabetes and at-risk for it along with family and friends to regular dance afternoons complete with “a little education and support, and a lot of fun.”

So hearing that Garnero was behind this new primary care program certainly caught our attention.

Along with Garnero as a faculty advisor for this new certification program is fellow PWD Maureen McGrath, a renowned nurse practitioner in pediatrics at the UCSF School of Nursing who founded the nation’s first academic minor program in diabetes for advanced practice nurses.

Together, they’ve created the new Advanced Management of Diabetes online certificate program.

It’s mainly aimed at primary care doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, exercise physiologists, health coaches and certified diabetes educators (CDEs). But Garnero says it can also be useful for specialists, because “even mainstream endos aren’t too familiar with diabetes care that’s needed for underserved populations, especially when you’re talking about behavioral health.”

Getting Certified in Empathetic Care

The program offers three sets of learning modules that each feature 15-20 short videos, for a total of ~55 clips that generally run from 10-20 minutes. They’re described as follows:

  • Clinical Management of Adult Diabetes: Learn which of the new oral agents and injectables are right for your patients, how to titrate insulin, and the variables affecting digestion times, and, thus, glucose values and insulin timing.
  • Care of Medically Underserved Populations: Learn how to Improve the effectiveness of your communication by incorporating therapeutic language, discussing treatment for those with low health literacy and caring for marginalized populations with diabetes.
  • Behavioral Approaches to Diabetes: Explore the emotional side to diabetes, discern the difference between diabetes distress and depression, understand the barriers to changing behavior, and review the new technology available and the motivators to using it.

Much of this addresses how to effectively communicate with patients, McGrath explains. “When I was diagnosed, my team was caring but didn’t realize many aspects, including the impact of language on my emotional health… Labeling blood sugars as good or bad made me feel ashamed when my glucose levels were elevated, even when it was beyond my control.”

The team of instructors includes 27 well-known and respected diabetes experts, including Susan Guzman of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute; Korey Hood of Stanford Endocrinology; diabetes and exercise expert Sheri Colberg; UCSF diabetes and mental health expert Larry Fisher; Felicia Hill-Briggs, Senior Director of Population Health at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and many more. Participants also can directly connect to these faculty members with two live video classes.


‘Keeping Up’ on Diabetes

“A common theme for everyone in healthcare, from those specializing in diabetes to those in primary care, is the ‘We just can’t keep up’ phrase…” Garnero notes.

“Who is going to the ADA and AADE conferences to connect with peers and learn more? Not the 90% who are caring for most of the people with diabetes. (This program) is one way to keep up on diabetes, at your own pace.”

Garnero tells us this the 30 CME credits participants earn can be used toward continued medical licensing requirements, as well as those needed for Certified Diabetes Education (CDE) exams. What’s unique is that even many diabetes conferences (AADE including) don’t offer such a high number of credits to attendees, so this new online program can really help aspiring CDEs and others who have these requirements to fill.

While this program is aimed at professionals and not open for patients, we have plenty of reason to want to support it. We PWDs can help spread the word, especially to those outside of the endocrinology and diabetes-specific offices who may need this education more than anyone.

The program had a soft launch in July, followed by an official launch on Aug. 14. Garnero says they are already seeing national and global interest in just the first month, and they expect it to ramp up even more as they market it to various professional medical groups and practices.

Describing it as “cost-efficient” (particularly when compared with travel and conference costs related to traditional CME earning), Garnero says it the program fees are $199 per module or $499 for all three modules. Those interested can reach her by email at or visit to register.


Great job on this, UCSF Friends!

We are all for using video and online channels to spread quality education. The more our HCPs know about diabetes before we step into their offices for whatever other health issues, the better!