San Joaquin County is at the epicenter of the diabetes crisis in the United States, as almost 50% of adults in Stockton have prediabetes and 10% have diabetes. University of the Pacific has partnered with the Abbott Fund, the foundation of the global healthcare company Abbott, to focus on diabetes prevention, education and management in the community.
Pacific and the Abbott Fund developed a certificate program in diabetes education for non-clinicians as a first step in addressing this issue. Through the study of the American Diabetes Association guidelines and observing the everyday lives of individuals with diabetes across their lifespan, the certificate was designed to focus on barriers to diabetes management in various settings: primary care clinic, workplace, school and home. A clinical certificate track is scheduled to launch in the spring, with both certificate programs offered through Benerd College.
Among the first students in Pacific’s certificate program were a group of health promoters in El Concilio’s family and child wellness program. In their roles, these health promoters provide a six-part, interactive, nutrition workshop program that teaches local parents about healthy eating and shopping, cooking demonstrations, home gardening, the value of exercise, plus CalFresh education and enrollment, as well as diabetes, cardiovascular and oral health education and awareness.
“Pacific’s Diabetes Essentials certificate program helped provide further education for our health promoters and content for them to share with our local community members,” said Jesus Margarito, El Concilio’s family health program coordinator. “Educating community members is vital to address the issue of diabetes so people can create good habits and focus on prevention instead of treatment.”
Christine Bolthouse, a full-time teacher at Health Careers Academy High School in Stockton, also participated in Pacific’s certificate program. In her class, Bolthouse’s students work in groups to create educational videos with patient testimonials for all ages.
“In these testimonials, diabetes patients share their personal experiences with effective ways they have treated and maintained their diagnosis,” said Bolthouse. “During the certificate program I saw how powerful it was to hear from people struggling with diabetes and my hope is people can learn from each other’s successes to manage their own health.”
Stockton faces two issues: the prevalence of the disease, and the shortage of health care providers in the region, particularly diabetes educators. According to the American Association of Diabetes Educators, for every certified diabetes educator in the US, there are an estimated 1,600 patients in need of services.
To help build this pipeline of health care workers with diabetes training, Abbott is offering scholarships to students in the certificate programs with the requirement that they pursue health-related careers in Stockton upon completion of the program, and that they currently work in this capacity.