Suburban's Diabetes Self-Management Training Helps People Overcome Their Unique Challenges

Published in Greater Washington Area - Spring/Summer 2022

Suburban Hospital has launched a Diabetes Self-Management Training (DSMT) program to help people living with diabetes better manage their condition. This American Diabetes Association-accredited program uses a combination of in-person and telemedicine appointments, as well as small group sessions, to teach people the skills necessary for managing their diabetes and preventing complications. The goal of the program is to empower participants to make informed decisions on the self-management and treatment of diabetes, resulting in improved A1c levels, blood pressure control and medication adherence.

The DSMT program is taught by a team of dedicated professionals, including certified diabetes nurse educators, registered dieticians, pharmacists and a transition guide nurse. As each patient in the program has their own unique set of challenges, the DSMT team works to develop a personalized plan based upon an individual’s needs.

During the first hour-long session, a diabetes educator meets with the participant to gathers information about how they are currently managing their condition, what they want to get out of the program and how DSMT can help them achieve their individual goals.

"I thought it would be a one-time consultation with a diabetes specialist," noted program participant Jamshed Mulla. "I assumed it would be like any other referral to a specialist, not an ongoing program. I did not expect the amount of dedicated one-on-one time and continued follow-up with the diabetes educator."

Mihail Zilbermint M.D., M.B.A., Chief and Director of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Suburban Hospital, recommends the program to all of his patients with diabetes. "Patients immediately see the benefit once they experience the first session," he noted. "Most doctors are unable to spend the time necessary to help a patient fully understand and manage their diabetes. The DSMT program, however, does exactly this."

The DSMT works with patients to help them understand how small changes in behavior can lead to big results. If you switch from one food choice to a healthier one, your blood sugar level will decrease. Taking medications with a meal can also help the body produce more insulin. "Often, people don’t know why they take medicine," said diabetes educator Leni Barry. "For example, they need to understand why they need to take three different medications. I walk them through the role each one has in managing their diabetes."

The DSMT program has transformed how Mulla approaches his lifestyle and manages his diabetes. He has adjusted his diet and walks more regularly because of what he learned. "Although I had taken a diabetes education classroom-style course many years ago, this program has had a much greater impact," Mulla noted. "Perhaps it is due to my age and greater awareness about my health and mortality, but this program has helped bring my diabetes front and center in my mind."

Mulla credits his Suburban diabetes educator Leni Barry for one change that had the most significant impact. "One critical item that helped me tremendously was when Ms. Barry suggested that I start using a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device. The CGM has given me near real-time feedback on the effects of my diet and exercise on my glucose levels."

A referral from a health care provider is required to participate in the DSMT program, which, may be covered by Medicare or your insurance plan. Please contact Suburban’s Outpatient Diabetes Services at 301-896-6032 or visit our website to learn more.