Diabetes Care: Who Should Be On Your Medical Team?
Last updated: August 2023
The medical community consists of several professionals who can support your routine diabetes needs and those "every-once-in-a-while" needs. The list of providers and doctors below can help reduce your diabetes burden, lower the risk of complications, and support your access to resources, medications, and technologies.
Are any of these providers or specialists currently part of your diabetes care team?
If you're feeling overwhelmed by your medication routine, unsure about the medications you take, or considering using herbal supplements, talk with a pharmacist. They can review your medications and may have suggestions for ways to lower medication costs and complexity. Some pharmacists even have certifications in diabetes specialties.
Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (CDCESs)
CDCESs are often registered nurses (RNs) or registered dietitians (RDs) in addition to their CDCES credentials. Their primary role is to fill the gap between your primary care provider and your everyday diabetes management. Connecting you to resources, problem-solving, changing medication doses, and creating a nutrition plan are some ways a CDCES can assist you. They also assist with reviewing labs and medical visits to help lower your risk of complications.
Registered Dietitians (RDs)
RDs not only have extensive knowledge of nutrition, but they also look at complex pieces of your life (such as access to food, other health conditions, etc.) to help you develop a successful, sustainable pattern of nutrition management. The internet is full of unrealistic and sometimes dangerous dietary information, so meeting with an RD after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and ongoing is an essential part of your diabetes care plan. Some RDs have certifications in diabetes specialties.
Primary Care Providers (PCPs)
PCPs can be physicians, nurse practitioners (NPs), or physician's assistants (PAs). They are one of the most important members of your medical team. It's crucial to find a PCP that you feel comfortable with and confident in. Not only do they inform decisions about your treatment plan, but they are also the gateway to other resources in healthcare.
Endocrinologists are doctors who specialize in hormone disorders like type 2 diabetes. The more complex your care needs, the more likely you'll meet with an endocrinologist. Endocrinologists are better at connecting you to diabetes technologies such as insulin pumps, smart insulin pens, and continuous glucose monitors.
Ophthalmologists or optometrists are your connection to routine eye care. Eye care is critical in keeping your eyes healthy with type 2 diabetes. Not only do these specialists monitor your eye health, but they also provide early treatment to keep you from losing eyesight. Yearly eye exams (more often if needing treatment) are critical.
Everything from gum erosion to cavities and gingivitis can be more common with diabetes – particularly poorly managed diabetes. Even those with dentures should see a dentist every 2 years to check for poor fit, gum fungus, and more. Poor mouth health often means higher blood sugars for you.
Mental health specialists
You don't need me to tell you that diabetes is incredibly demanding. Struggling with diabetes burnout is more common than you might think. Working with a licensed counselor or psychologist can help you build resiliency and coping skills to endure tough times. Some psychologists have certifications in diabetes specialties.
Other specialists who may play a role in helping you manage diabetes or its complications can include podiatrists, vascular specialists, cardiologists, social workers, wound care physicians, and more.
Do you find it difficult to "eat right" and stick to a nutrition plan?