Education

Once a discovery has been made by researchers it is essential that this discovery is disseminated to multi-disciplinary health care professionals to ensure that improvements in clinical practice are translated into clinical care. This enables patients to benefit from such research findings in a timely manner with appropriate support from informed health care professionals. 

Dr Maggie Shepherd at the  Clinical Research Facility runs a national education programme which trains nurses and other health care professionals about cutting edge developments in the recognition and management of monogenic diabetes.  This project has used an innovative approach to the dissemination of research findings in the field of monogenic diabetes. The Genetic Diabetes Nurse (GDN) project is an educational initiative which aids the integration of new genetic knowledge into diabetes care. This project took the novel approach of training experienced Diabetes Specialist Nurses located throughout the UK about monogenic diabetes. Currently 19 GDNs located throughout England and Scotland are seconded to the project for three and a half hours per week. They receive on-going training three times a year in Exeter where they learn about genetic forms of diabetes, genetic counselling, genetic testing and the implications of genetic information. As part of their role the GDNs are allocated 10-15 hospitals in their geographical area to contact and give presentations about monogenic diabetes and genetic testing. A key part of their role is in identifying patients with possible monogenic diabetes and, following positive genetic testing, supporting individuals with appropriate treatment change which may include cessation of insulin injections even after many years on this treatment and transferring to sulphonylurea tablets. Follow up of other family members is also part of their role.

The Department of Health White Paper on genetics highlighted the GDN project in building genetics into mainstream diabetes services using the skills of specialist nurses. The White paper also emphasized that education for health care professionals is vital if advances in genetics are to be translated effectively into everyday clinical care. The GDN project has successfully raised awareness of genetic testing in diabetes with an increase in the number of UK patients referred for testing and a significant increase in the number of UK patients receving a genetic diagnosis of a specific subtype of monogenic diabetes as a result of a positive molecular test.

The GDN study days held in January, May and September each year are open to other health care professionals interested in this field. Please contact Maggie Shepherd for further details. Further details about the Genetic Diabetes Nurse project and the locations of the nurses can also be found on www.diabetesgenes.org

Other educational activities:
• Additional training on monogenic diabetes has been held for a group of American Paediatricians and is planned for other groups in the future.
For further information about this programme email crf@pms.ac.uk