As College Diabetes Week comes to a close, the final blog prompt is two interesting questions: What is the most important advice you would give to students with diabetes and/or their parents preparing for college? What advice would you give clinicians who work with young adults?
I love these questions because the answers to them are both super important while also being totally subjective. I’m sure that others who have blogged throughout College Diabetes Week will come up with answers that differ greatly from mine, but that’s precisely why these two questions are awesome. I hope that value or insight can be gleaned from my tidbits of advice that I have to give in response:
1) The most important advice I could give to students with diabetes and/or their parents preparing for college is to remember that college is about so much more than earning a degree at the end of four years. This is a crucial development period for both children and their parents; a time in which self-exploration happens and greater responsibility must be accepted. For me, college was my first true taste of independence. It felt wonderful to experience a newfound sense of freedom, but with this freedom came a number of new experiences, both good and bad. I didn’t always enjoy learning lessons on my own, but it’s an inevitable part of becoming a functioning adult. An open mind, a willingness to share, and a positive attitude will go a long way for parents and children who are making the transition to college.
2) I would tell clinicians who work with young adults with T1D that it’s important to make every patient feel like their voice is heard. No question is stupid to ask and no concern is too trivial. Clinicians play a unique role in their patients’ lives. Some patients share things with them that they haven’t shared with anyone else, and it’s the clinicians job to find a delicate balance between steering them in the right direction and making their patient feel good about themselves, without judging them unfairly. The best clinicians I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with have possessed kindness, humility, encouragement, knowledge, positivity, and patience. These qualities are truly valued by patients like me who rely on their clinicians to provide them with guidance and support.
My answers may seem generic, especially when you think about the magnitude of these two questions. But I believe that, on occasion, the most loaded questions require simple answers. I think that my words reflect a mix of common sense and compassion, two things that the world needs a little more of—especially these days.