Every drop in the ocean creates a ripple of change across the world.
I recently heard this being expressed at a conference symposium I facilitated and have been thinking about it since. August has been a busy month with back to back conferences in American and Australia for Diabetes Educators. Conferences are a great place for networking, learning and reflecting on my current work as a researcher, clinician and diabetes advocate. What I love most are the really meaningful conversations I get to have with people I wouldn’t normally chat with at these conferences.
I’m grateful for being able to attend these conferences. Just on that note I will list my disclosures here that AADE waived my registration fee as I was a speaker for the AADE conference. I paid for my own flights and accommodation.
Roche Diabetes Care Australia paid for my flights to the Australasian Diabetes Congress in Sydney and one night’s accommodation for being part of the keynote at the Roche Educators Day. I was also reimbursed for my time talking about mySugr during the conference. ADEA also provided me with a media pass for being part of their program organising committee as a consumer representative. I paid for my own accommodation for all other days.
For me, standout sessions from both the conferences were the #AADEDSMS hosted by Ascensia Diabetes Care and our symposium session at ADEA on the clinician and client’s perspective when walking through a clinical appointment from start to finish. These sessions reminded me that as individuals, there is so much we can do to advocate for people with diabetes.
At the AADEDSMS event, we talked about encouraging diversity and being inclusive of people of colour and those who live with different types of diabetes. There’s no denying that type 1 diabetes is more represented online and we’re starting to see more voices from different areas and backgrounds like Beyond Type 2 and WOC Diabetes. Sometimes people who don’t personally live with other types of diabetes or come from different backgrounds feel they can’t advocate or represent these groups.
However, we can still make a difference by making sure the diabetes community is a safe and encouraging space for people to share their opinions and stories. We can also be more mindful of how our own actions and behaviours can impact others. A prime example is using more inclusive hashtags that would resonate with anyone living with diabetes. Often I see amazing campaigns that are specific to type 1 diabetes and not knowing where I fit, I feel awkward using those hashtags.
In the session at AADE on clinical appointments, we talked about the responsibility of healthcare professionals as advocates for people with diabetes and for the profession. We can start by highlighting inappropriate and unhelpful language being used at work and advocating for the client. If there are larger systems to change, seek out opportunities to be on working parties or committees to be a champion for change in your workplace, or state profession interest group. Once you’re there, find peers that are on the same pages as you to rally with. Advocacy can be a tough, lonely, frustrating and isolating journey sometimes. But it’s certainly worthwhile.
So as people living with diabetes and clinicians, we have the power to changes things within our own environment and world. The most important thing here is not to underestimate the power of being a drop in the ocean.