Meet Cierra Lawson (BSN, RN, CDCES, CPN), a Registered Nurse and Certified Diabetes Education and Care Specialist at Western Missouri Medical Center. As a Warrensburg resident and Type 1 diabetic since 2009, she understands firsthand how important it is to offer diabetes education and care in a small community.
It has always been important to Cierra to help her community where she can. In fact, location was a driving factor in her and her husband’s decision to relocate back to the community they both grew up in—and where she currently works as a Registered Nurse and Certified Diabetes Education and Care Specialist here at Western Missouri Medical Center.
“Diabetes care and education have been a passion of mine as long as I can remember. I have a strong family history of diabetes,” Cierra says, citing her own Type 1 diagnosis in 2009. “From that time on, I knew I wanted to help others living with diabetes, and I thrive on being an educator and a support person.”
While finishing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Central Missouri State University, Cierra worked at WMMC as a patient access representative and authorization and referrals specialist at our clinics. Upon graduation, she spent four years working at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, two of those years providing diabetes education as a certified pediatric nurse before returning to WMMC.
Cierra emphasizes that every patient’s journey with diabetes looks a little different. For example, her patients with Type 2 diabetes often see her at various stages of their diabetes journey, as the disease is progressive.
“My role as an educator is to teach people, and I believe that knowledge is power,” she says. “Providing patients with the What and the Why of their diagnosis helps them become more active and empowered in their care. Delivering that information in a way that they can understand is vital to patients feeling confident in managing their own diagnosis.”
Each of Cierra’s patients begins with a one-on-one visit to establish where they currently are on their diabetes management journey, discussing their biggest health priority and areas they would like to improve to accomplish their goal. After the initial visit, Cierra offers three different diabetes education classes:
Class 1: Getting Savvy with Diabetes
This is what Cierra refers to as “the bones of diabetes management” and serves as an overview or introduction to diabetes and the many lifestyle factors and treatment plans that contribute to effectively managing a patient’s diagnosis.
Class 2: Making a Meal Plan
This class is designed to help patients make better food choices and meal plans. With her patients, she reviews what a healthy diet looks like for different types of diabetes and what effects different foods have on blood glucose levels.
Class 3: Heart Healthy and Reducing Risks
Her third class discusses complications that can arise from not properly managing diabetes and what steps patients can take to prevent these complications.
After patients have completed these classes, along with their initial consultation with Cierra, she is available for additional one-on-one follow-up visits, especially if there is a change in a patient’s treatment plan or lifestyle. In addition to one-on-one consultations and group classes, diabetes education at WMMC also includes:
- New Patient Consults
- Care Planning
- Diabetes Education
- Support Groups
Cierra also offers a free diabetes support group called “Ask the Educator” on the fourth Tuesday of every other month from 6 – 7:30 p.m. While her work focuses on diabetes education and management, she is grateful for the collaboration and teamwork she has experienced with the entire care team and the scope of providers at WMMC.
“No one person can manage their diabetes diagnosis on their own,” she says. “Working together with doctors and specialists to help patients meet their goals is so important. At WMMC, we work together, putting the patient first and collaborating as a team to meet their needs.”
While it might be easy for newly diagnosed patients to become overwhelmed with treatment options and lifestyle changes, everything is a stepping stone. The most important thing is to take action, even if it happens, one small change at a time.
“Do not put diabetes on the back burner,” Cierra says, emphasizing that November is Diabetes Awareness Month and a great time to act if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes. “High blood sugars can cause major issues, including the severe complications many of us associate with a diabetes diagnosis, but a healthy life with well-managed diabetes is achievable with the right tools and support.”
Ask your primary care provider for a referral, or call 660-262-7717 to discuss your diabetes education options.