From Dietitian to CDE: Catherine Makes Diabetes a Top Priority
Certified Diabetes Educators (CDEs) often play other roles within the healthcare realm before they begin their careers in diabetes and Catherine Genthner is no exception. She is currently a CDE on the Sanofi US HELP Team, but she started her career as a Registered Dietitian (RD).
“My involvement in the diabetes world started in 1981 when I was working as a dietitian at St. Joseph Hospital in Baltimore, but my diabetes education role became more significant in 1995 when I took a position as head dietitian at Maryland General Hospital,” Catherine said. “A few years earlier the results of the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) were released, and I was eager to share this knowledge with patients and providers, and put it into practice. This trial changed the standards of medical care for people living with diabetes and thus provided an opportunity for greater learning and greater service.”
Another reason Catherine got more involved with the diabetes program at Maryland General Hospital was because the American Diabetes Association was trying to get hospitals and providers recognized for diabetes care and to increase the standards of medical care for those living with diabetes. Catherine worked with the Director of Nutrition Services and the Hospital Administrator to initiate the process of obtaining accreditation for the program.
“I remember the administrator asking what we wanted to do and I said, ‘We want the knowledge about diabetes management to be brought to patients in the hospital and the communities it serves, sooner rather than later so that the effects of uncontrolled blood sugar can be alleviated,’” Catherine said. “That’s when we got approval to form a committee to look into the recognition program. From there, we just kept working towards recognition standards, and then we applied and got it!”
During that time, Catherine also worked towards becoming a CDE and obtained the credential in 1999. Then, in 2006, she joined the Sanofi US HELP Team. Catherine says that although medical care standards have not changed much since she was at the hospital, the way she approaches diabetes education has.
“I’m learning more and more to keep it simple. I remember the first few times we were trying to educate patients on everything at once, it was too complicated,” Catherine said. “Now I just really emphasize what patients need to focus on at that point in their journey.”
“I think meetings definitely help people, wherever they are in their journey,” Catherine said. “When they say, ‘You really taught me a lot’ or ‘I learned a lot,’ I know I have at least given them some information that can really help them manage their diabetes and it’s a great feeling.”
It’s so wonderful that there are people like Catherine dedicated to diabetes education and we’re lucky to have her as a part of our team. Thank you to Catherine for taking the time to share her story.
All the best,
Disclosure: Catherine Genthner is a trained participant of the Sanofi US HELP Team Diabetes Education Program. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.