UCSF School of Nursing’s Diabetes Minor Among First in the Country

October 2012Kate Volkman

An epidemic is sweeping the nation and the world: diabetes. Almost 26 million children and adults in the United States – and more than 346 million worldwide – have the disease. Another 79 million Americans are considered to have prediabetes.

Now, thanks to a generous $1.5 million gift from a member of the UCSF Diabetes Center Leadership Council who has a child with diabetes, the UCSF School of Nursing will establish a new academic minor in diabetes. The program is among the first in the country to educate and train nurses specifically to care for diabetes patients across their life span.

“With increasing rates of obesity and an aging population, we need to train more nurses who can help patients manage the disease in a very knowledgeable way,” says UCSF Professor Kit Chesla, a diabetes researcher and the Thelma Shobe Endowed Chair in Ethics and Spirituality.

Longtime UCSF nurse and certified diabetes educator Peggy Huang (second from right) with School of Nursing Dean David Vlahov (right), diabetes researcher Kit Chesla (second from left) and Chair of the Department of Family Health Care Nursing Linda Franck (left). The minor – titled the Madison Clinic Peggy Huang Diabetes Nurse Fellows Program – will prepare advanced practice nursing students to sit for qualification exams in order to become nationally board certified in advanced diabetes management (BC-ADM). As such, they will help patients manage their diabetes from both medical and behavioral perspectives. For example, the nurses might adjust patients’ medication regimens, and help those who are struggling with their diets to set realistic goals and develop concrete plans for adopting healthier lifestyles.

The minor’s inaugural cohort of three to six students will enroll in the spring of 2013 (the classes are also open to any other UCSF nursing student with an interest in the field). These pioneering students will begin by taking three courses: one each on advanced clinical management of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in children and adults, and one on the behavioral aspects of diabetes management. They will then complete clinical rotations in the Madison Clinic for Pediatric Diabetes at UCSF, the Justine K. Schreyer Adult Diabetes Care Center or other family practice and community clinics that treat patients with diabetes.

Both the curriculum and clinical training are interprofessional ventures between the UCSF Schools of Medicine and Nursing. While the School of Nursing runs the program, pediatric diabetes physicians Saleh Adi and Steve Gitelman – both of whom direct the Madison Clinic for Pediatric Diabetes – will teach some elements of the curriculum and help train nurses in the clinic. “This is just the latest example of the collaborative spirit among the basic research, clinical research and patient care programs that make up diabetes at UCSF,” says Matthias Hebrok, director of the UCSF Diabetes Center.

The donor’s gift also provides scholarships for three students pursuing the minor each year. Both the scholars and the program are named for longtime UCSF nurse, certified diabetes educator and co-founder of the UCSF Diabetes Teaching Center Peggy Huang.

“We thank our very generous donor for stimulating and supporting this program,” says UCSF School of Nursing Dean David Vlahov. “It really represents a launch pad for advancing nursing and interprofessional education and practice. It will be a model for the nation.”