Public Health and Primary CareBRIEF REPORT

Diabetes Fellowship in Primary Care: A Survey of Graduates

Amber M. Healy, DO; Robert J. Tanenberg, MD; Frank L. Schwartz, MD; and Jay H. Shubrook, DO
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: December 14, 2017

Accepted: January 31, 2018

Published: August 1, 2018

J Osteopath Med; 118(8): 538-543

Context: The diabetes pandemic has outpaced the US supply of diabetes specialists and has overwhelmed primary care providers (physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners). Primary care diabetes fellowships can be used to address this workforce shortage.

Objectives: To determine the skills obtained during 2 diabetes fellowship programs, the barriers encountered in practice, the impact of the programs on career paths, and perceived acceptance by patients and colleagues.

Methods: A Qualtrics link to a 26-item survey was sent via email to all graduates of the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine diabetes fellowship programs. Items included demographic information, comfort level with different clinical diabetes skills, and current system barriers encountered in their practices.

Results: Of 39 graduates, 36 completed the survey. The most beneficial skills acquired during the fellowship were insulin pump management (13 [36%]), insulin management (10 [29%]), and diabetes pharmacology (6 [17%]). The most common barrier was the lack of board certification as a diabetologist, which affected time with patients and insurance reimbursement. The perceived acceptance by patients was high (25 [69%]), and the perceived receptiveness by colleagues was mostly neutral (7 [19%]) or positive (10 [29%]). The most common postfellowship career path was primary care medicine (15) followed by hospitalist (7) and diabetologist (5).

Conclusions: Physicians who completed the diabetes fellowship training reported high comfort levels with treating patients with diabetes, but they also reported the barriers faced in an unrecognized specialty.

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