I was fortunate to have been assigned “The Art and Science of Behavioral Medicine Principles in the Diabetes Online Community” Interest Group Discussion this past Sunday at Scientific Sessions. This meant I got to see Kerri, Scott, Manny, and Jeff on stage while medical professionals attending the conference came to see them speak. I suppose on the surface there’s nothing out of the ordinary about people coming to hear what any of these four diabetes advocates have to say, but the setting makes all of this much more meaningful.
Scientific Sessions isn’t for “us”, the patient community. There’s a lot of high science that gets covered here – science that has a way to go before it’s turned into medical practice that may one day directly impact our lives with diabetes. This isn’t the conference for patients and professionals to have a sit down. And I’m totally okay with that. But the fact that someone on the planning committee thought that we the diabetes community had something to offer to these attendees, to these medical professionals, is a sign that things are ever-so-slowly changing. And that’s awesome.
The panel on Sunday was largely a Q&A hosted by Dr. Korey Hood (who happens to be on the planning committee). Dr. Hood had a few questions prepared for the panel for the first 30 minutes, while lines started forming at the microphones in the audience almost immediately after the conversation started. The things discussed during the hour and a half may not have been revolutionary to you or me, but seeing the heads nodding in the audience after Jeff explained the value of Friends for Life, or Kerri shared why talking about complications is an important part of the online community conversation assured me that these were the right ambassadors for all of us to this new audience. Not that I ever had any doubt, as these are some of the best people I know.
I have no idea if an opportunity like this will ever be possible again in the future, but as far as I’m concerned, the diabetes online community made an excellent first impression.