I had the opportunity to interview someone who understand what living with diabetes is really like. When you find a CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator) who cares for their patients, you can be successful in your diabetes management. Janice Baker, B.Sc., M.B.A., R.D., CDE, CNSC, is someone that truly cares about her patients and their diabetes management. Janice was kind enough to share with us some key moments throughout her career as a CDE.
1. Start by telling us about yourself and what your interests are related to diabetes.
I am a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, certified nutrition support clinician, and board certified- advanced diabetes management. I’ve been in practice since 1982, providing medical nutrition therapy and diabetes education services in San Diego.
I also volunteer for organizations such as Taking Control of Your Diabetes and speak at many events including professional medical education programs and hospital district community outreach programs.
2. In what area of pediatric diabetes do you feel that you have special expertise, and why?
I am a mother of 3 children who are now all in their 20s. None of them have diabetes but they do have several friends with diabetes whom they have grown up with. In my 1982 internship year, I worked for 2 weeks at a camp for kids with diabetes (before glucose meters, insulin pumps and newer insulins) which taught me quite a bit about the challenges. I have also worked in the eating disorder field for a very long time and have seen this overlap especially with teen girls who have diabetes and that is an area I do have extra experience with.
3. Describe your typical work week and patient load, including unusual situations you may have faced with pediatric diabetes patients and their families, or challenging diabetic patients you may have worked with.
My typical week is at a primary care clinic, mostly adults, but I do see families with pediatric diabetes patients. The most challenging is the stress, costs, social situations, and over restrictive eating. Additional stress comes in the teen years of course with new drivers, dangers of alcohol use- much reinforcement and education is critical at that time and having good rapport with their primary care physician and endocrinologist.
4. What major challenges and problems did you face in working with these diabetic patients, and how did you handle them?
Adjusting to new situations such as involvement in sports, driving, social situations, parental stress. Cost of insulin is a huge concern. I listen and try to have the best array of resources /referrals possible. Listening and letting patients/families express their thoughts and feelings are key.
5. What do you consider to be your biggest strengths, and why?
Experience (34 years’ worth!) growing up in a family with diabetes, albeit type 2, and knowing personally how challenging it can be to raise kids even without this health issue. I have educated my kids on how best to support their friends who have type 1 diabetes which has made a huge difference. They all know how to use glucose meters, how to look for signs of low blood sugar in their friends and how to help if needed to the best of their ability. But being friends and having fun with them is first.
My 2 sons are engineers (electric/computer and mechanical) and they are also very interested and have reviewed technology aspects with me as well and they have volunteered and have attended diabetes educational events. My daughter who is 20 and studying kinesiology will be volunteering a 2nd time at the large TCOYD conference with me in the fall.
6. What do you consider to be your biggest weaknesses, and why?
Not enough time to spend with patients/families and that is something I can’t control because of insurance/coverage issues. I know that since I don’t have a child with diabetes, I can’t fully understand the extent of the stress and issues that parents have to deal with daily.
7. What do you like the most about your current job?
I meet many wonderful and interesting people and learn more every day about ways I can relay educational messages so that they are realistic and sustainable without being overwhelming. I work with many wonderful health care providers and love learning from some of the most highly respected diabetologists around who happen to be located here in San Diego.
8. Have you had any special recognition, rewards, or special projects related to diabetes or other things, that you have been involved in? Tell us about those.
Yes, I worked for at least 6 months with TCOYD.org on a diabetes makeover program that was a documentary/video for both type 1 and type 2 patients. I have won awards from our school district for volunteering to schools on educations programs for health/fitness
9. What are your short and long range goals related to this position, and how do you hope to achieve them?
I aim to maintain my certifications/credentials and continue to learn every day and keep up with the science and practice of nutrition therapy and diabetes management. I am working more and more with children and adults with disordered eating, obesity and many metabolic comorbidities which are being treated with a variety of new therapies.
10. Describe your 3 greatest accomplishments to date.
1. Choosing the right spouse
2. Raising wonderful, hardworking, accomplished young adult children
3. Accomplishing educational achievements such as my MBA, BSc, and other certifications in spite of the fact that my parents did not push me to go to college and I paid for all of my education on my own. Never giving up.
11. Give an example of a time where you constructively dealt with disappointment, and turned it into a learning experience.
During college- many, many, chemistry classes that were painfully difficult but I knew that was the price I had to pay to get the degree I wanted. Even with some “c” grades back then, I still value the need for chemistry and the importance of a good science background and now I have 2 sons with graduate engineering degrees who excel in their field and my daughter who not only studies kinesiology but has a minor in physics and she is not afraid of the very hard sciences. So I learned to value the importance of science based education and all of the doors it opens for you and the value of relaying this to our kids. They took on many very difficult classes themselves because of my husband (architect) and myself being very involved and encouraging science based education.