Pacific, Abbott on course to improve diabetes outcomes in Stockton

Diabetes Clinic

Certificate program through Benerd College will produce more clinicians with diabetes expertise

Andrea Weiss, a registered dietician in San Joaquin County for the past 14 years, said she feels empowered with additional knowledge to use in her current and future work after completing the Diabetes Essentials for Clinicians certificate program through Benerd College.

In fact, Weiss is the first person to complete the 100-hour, self-paced program through University of the Pacific with scholarship support from the Abbott Fund, the philanthropic foundation of the global healthcare company Abbott.

Program Director Theresa Garnero said there are about 100 students combined in the tracks for clinicians (health care professionals) and non-clinicians (support staff). More information: click here.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and getting out information about the disease is essential—especially in Stockton where 60 percent of the residents have either diabetes or pre-diabetes, Garnero said.

Weiss is a registered dietician for Community Medical Centers in Stockton. She knows the issues that can be caused by diabetes. Her late grandfather had diabetes and her father has battled weight issues most of his life and has pre-diabetes.

Andrea Weiss

Andrea Weiss was the first to complete the Diabetes Essentials for Clinicians certificate program through Benerd College

“I am proud to be the first to complete the course, but that might just be because of my Type A personality,” Weiss said. “There are many more coming—about 50 in all, I think, in the clinician course. We need more people with expertise about diabetes, so this is going to be very positive. This is an excellent program.”

“So as an educator, it is important to recognize Diabetes Awareness Month and further share resources that we have to help people manage the disease. It really often is a family diagnosis. We need caregivers and their patients to come together with a care team,” Weiss added.  

Garnero said the clinicians and non-clinicians programs will create more people with diabetes expertise in Stockton and the surrounding area, but adds, “It does not have to stop there. This really has the potential to be a regional or even national program. In addition, we have some outstanding diabetes experts who are teaching in our program.”

The course content is self-paced and most of it is available online or via the course APP. The course worked perfectly for Weiss, who has four children ages 2 to 14.

“Theresa encourages us to do two hours per week consistently, but I probably moved a bit faster,” Weiss said. “I would listen to lectures on our family walks or when I was driving to soccer practice. The kids are probably happier than I am that the course is complete. But I have to say everything is designed in a way that you can tailor it to what works best for your schedule.”

Weiss’ employer, Community Medical Centers, is pleased with the program and hopes to have more staff members enrolled in the future.

“These courses expand the knowledge of caregivers in our community,” said Ginger Manss, chief nursing officer. “This is a wonderful opportunity and CMC continues to support such courses in our goal of collaborating with our community to provide life-long learning.”

Garnero and Weiss praise the Abbott Fund for prioritizing a community where diabetes is an epidemic. The Abbott Fund Scholarship is part of Abbott and the Abbott Fund's broader program called Future Well Communities, which brings together local organizations to address health disparities in Stockton by removing the barriers that prevent people with diabetes from living healthy.

“Through the Abbott Fund, we have several scholarships available for Stockton residents. We also are trying to target people early in their medical careers,” Garnero said. “If we can get them early, the impact in the community can be tremendous.”

Added Weiss: “I’m not sure we would have had even a fraction of people who were able to enter this course if it wasn’t something that was sponsored. This can be very impactful in the future.” 

November is Diabetes Awareness Month

Click here for more information about various types of diabetes from the American Diabetes Association.