Diabetes Educator of the Year 2007 Highlights

Barbara J. (Clay) Odom RN, PHN, M.ED – WINNER FOR 2007

Barbara J. Odom, RN, PHN, M.ED - The Winner of Diabetes Educator Of The Year 2007“My name is Barbara J. (Clay) Odom of San Diego, California. I’m a U.S. Navy Veteran, a Registered Nurse of 36 years, became a Certified Diabetes Educator in 1985, and retired from the Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System June 2001. Since that time I’ve been working independently and volunteering my time in the San Diego Community, and throughout the Country. I was born in Columbus, Mississippi and grew up in Detroit, Michigan, so I have three states I call home. Since my retirement, I have traveled to all three, among others, helping others, using my talent God gave me to the good of His will. The only difference is there is no monetary reward, only the reward within my heart knowing that I have helped someone to live a healthier life. I facilitate a monthly support group in Southeast San Diego, do workshop presentations on diabetes and other health concerns at churches, community groups and health fairs. I love nursing, teaching and helping others in any way I can. I have a Bachelors of Science in Nursing, Public Health Certified and a Masters in Education.”

This is just one of the many nominations Barbara received:

“I am so proud to have a friend like Barbara for all of my adult life. We met in the Navy. Barbara achieved her goals. After the Navy as a corp wave, she continued her education while raising her children. Being a diabetes educator at the V.A. was close to her heart. There is so much illness in our families, and she educated our families, our communities, as well as her patients for decades. I have learned so much from her. Since her retirement from the V.A., she’s just getting started. She is looking forward to being an even greater help wherever needed in her community. She is a hands on person with charisma and the ability to work well with a variety of people. She is a good communicator. It is evident to her patients that she is doing what she loves to do. I’ll always be grateful for her counsel to my family. I wholeheartedly nominate my friend, Barbara J. Odom, for Diabetes Educator of the Year!”

The final contestants for the 2007 Contest were kind enough to provide a brief biography of themselves. Below is a listing of their accomplishments and goals as diabetes educators, in their own words.

Dr. Richard K. Bernstein

“Richard K. Bernstein, M.D., diabetic since 1946, has educated people with diabetes since the mid 1970’s, before titles like CDE existed. His efforts have been crucial to the development of modern diabetes self-management. He invented blood sugar self-monitoring and basal/bolus insulin dosing. He has helped thousands of patients over the years, and continues to reach even more through the six books he has authored, and via his monthly teleconference at www.diabetesincontrol.com.

See his bio at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_K._Bernstein.”

Marcia D. Draheim RN, CDE

“I have been a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) for 20 years. I have been in diabetes education and its management for 36 years. The primary reason for becoming certified was to gain a broader base of understanding of diabetes and its management and to also establish networking opportunities with other educators as resources so that I could more effectively help my patients. I believe that each person who has diabetes has their own unique needs and will do better with managing their health if they have options and approaches that fit into their lifestyle choices/needs and that they have a part in planning the approach of their care with the educator. My personal walk on the path of being a Certified Diabetes Educator has been one of great passion. There is such considerable joy in helping people live well and go on with their lives. I have spoken to so many diabetes educators over the years, and I certainly am not alone in that feeling of passion and commitment. Sometimes people will ask, "If you had it all to do over again, would you choose being a Certified Diabetes Educator"? Yes, there is no amount of money that can possibly take the place of the experiences that an educator has with their patients, their families, and the walk that we have taken together toward enhancing their health and lives. I say this truly, it is one of the most enchanting life and career experiences … patients teach the educators too. It has been my privilege to serve in this capacity. You begin to see your own life more clearly.”

Fran Kiger RN, CDE

“Hi! My name is Fran Kiger, RNCDE and I am with the Diabetes Care Center of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC. I was one of the original co-founders of the diabetes center here along with Will Cefalu, MD in 1988. My decision to specialize in diabetes was not really difficult since I had eight family members who have diabetes, five of whom have Type 1. The absolute reward for being a diabetes educator is being allowed to see the outcomes of our patients’ hard work–when I see an A1c of 6.2%, then I feel rewarded. When I see a young lady who has just given birth to a healthy baby despite having Type 1 diabetes, then I feel rewarded. When I see a very mature 14-year old who has the enthusiasm to apply and be accepted to an academically outstanding prep school and who also excels in every area, then I feel rewarded. Empowering people with diabetes to be all that they can possibly be makes me feel rewarded. I am blessed to be able to work with people with diabetes. Thank you.”

Dr. Mary C. Vernon

“I have had patients with diabetes for all of the years I have been practicing medicine-I graduated in 1977-so 30+ years of caring for diabetics as a family physician. It was my experience as a family physician dutifully teaching the standard information about how to manage diabetes and prevent complications that led to me conclude that there must be a better way. After a few years of trying hard to help but not seeing much effect for my patients, I hit the books again, became Board Certified in Bariatric Medicine (www.asbp.org), and started using carbohydrate restricted diets to help patients with diabetes and the metabolic changes that precede Type 2 Diabetes-like metabolic syndrome, impaired fasting glucose and impaired glucose tolerance. I followed patients carefully and analyzed the data, publishing my outcomes in the medical literature. I then had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Robert Atkins when he spoke at a meeting of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians. He invite me to visit his clinic in New York, and I did so. He was in the beginning stages of writing a book about treatment of diabetes with carbohydrate restricted diets. When he died, I was asked to write the book-and so I co-authored "Atkins Diabetes Revolution" with Jackie Eberstein, his nurse of 30 years.

I love my work because I can genuinely help patients. More than 90% of my Type 2 diabetic are able to come off of their medications to control blood sugar, including insulin, and have normal blood sugar numbers. Not just meet ADA goals-but have fasting sugars less than 125 and HgBA1C in the normal range. Most of those patients actually have fasting blood sugars near 100. They feel good, they look good, and other risk markers like blood pressure and blood lipids look as good as their glucose numbers. The patients are happy so my work is joyful and rewarding. I have an excellent staff, and that makes going to work fun, too.

I have spent much of my life training animals. In addition to the cats, dogs, horses and lizards, I raised and trained a chicken when I was a child. My parents were patient people. Even as an adult, I have continued to be involved in the study of animal behavior and training. Until I became too busy after "Atkins Diabetes Revolution", I taught Advanced Dog Agility classes with Joan Meyer, a dog trainer who has been a World Silver Medallist in Agility.

I think that I have become a better physician because of what I have learned about positive reinforcement in my work with animals. Humans are complicated, and supporting behavioral change effectively is very helpful in improving health. Training animals is good for my health, too-I have 5 dogs and 3 cats. With the exception of 1, all of them were adopted from the Humane Society. They keep me active and entertained.

I am in private practice in Northeast Kansas.

If patients want to reach me, a good way is to Google “askdrvernon” to go to my blog site. I have a blog to provide some general information, and web-accessible educational seminars as well.”

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