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Running Diabetes Clinics: 5 Top Tips for Pharmacists

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Stethoscope and needle on a sheet of paper saying Diabetes

Do you want to start delivering diabetes clinics in primary care?

As the prevalence of diabetes continues to rise, pharmacists have become instrumental in managing this chronic condition. Running diabetes clinics allows pharmacists to make a significant impact on a patient's quality of life, and it can be a very interesting area to specialise in. However, before taking this step, it's essential to understand how to run diabetes clinics safely and competently. Drawing inspiration from our recent podcast episode, we have composed a short article that shares 5 top tips for pharmacists considering diabetes management as their next step.

1. Build your own knowledge base

To run diabetes clinics effectively and safely, you need to possess comprehensive knowledge of the condition. Staying up to date with NICE Guidelines is crucial, along with developing a strong understanding of associated comorbidities managed during the diabetic annual review, such as hypertension, lipid management, chronic kidney disease, and neuropathic pain. This will ensure you are fully equipped to manage these areas competently and run diabetes clinics with confidence.

2. Emphasise patient education

Patient education and lifestyle management are crucial components of diabetes clinics. It is essential to spend time discussing a patient's lifestyle and motivating them to make healthy changes. This is especially important for patients who are newly diagnosed. Since patients may not understand the sources of sugar in their diet, pharmacists must take the responsibility to ensure their patients are educated on this and empower them to make any lifestyle adjustments needed. Referrals to relevant structured diabetes education programmes should also be offered.

3. Prioritise mental health

While patients may not anticipate discussions about mental health during a diabetic review, it is important to routinely check in with your patients during consultations. By asking open-ended questions that encourage patients to express themselves, you create an opportunity for them to address any mental health concerns. This is crucial because a patient's mental well-being can significantly impact their eating patterns and behaviours. Based on their responses, you can determine if an intervention or referral is necessary and if any dietetic or mental health support is required.

4. Utilise your resources

When you first start delivering diabetes clinics, it is essential to remember that there is always more to learn. Initially, it can feel like a lot of new information to absorb and this can be overwhelming. However, it is important to remember that you do not need to know everything straight away, and your confidence and competence will increase with every patient. You should ensure you are making full use of any training programmes, guidance documents, or other resources available to help you with this.

Being aware of your limitations is essential to know when to refer to a more senior clinician to ensure your practise is safe and your patients receive high quality care.

Additionally, it can be beneficial to connect with other pharmacists and surround yourself with a support network. Our Clinical Pharmacist Network Telegram group acts as an excellent resource for many pharmacists:

5. Develop good consultation skills

Lastly, it is essential to build good consultation skills when beginning diabetes clinics. During your consultations, it is crucial to adopt a patient-centred approach and manage your patients holistically. Developing motivational coaching skills can be very useful when you need to encourage patients to make lifestyle changes and adopt healthier habits. Maintaining an empathetic and supportive manner is also important when you are approaching sensitive topics such as weight and diet. By honing and utilising these consultation skills, your discussions will become more effective, and your patients will be more receptive to your advice.

In Summary

In conclusion, running diabetes clinics is not only an excellent opportunity for pharmacists to positively impact patient outcomes and enhance their quality of life, but also a significant way of being a key valuable member of the practice team. By following the essential tips outlined above, you can confidently navigate the challenges and complexities of diabetes management and ultimately improve the well-being of your patients.

To learn more, please watch our latest podcast episode 'A Pharmacist's Guide to Running Diabetes Clinics' here:

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