Are You an A1c Champion?
Champions are those people who make us feel good, be better people, or who give us validation and inspire us to want to work harder. My mind can sift through my childhood memories and recall people who made me feel confident, but none were people living with diabetes! I didn’t know anyone else with diabetes until a few years ago and that changed my diabetes world. With that, my diabetes management changed too.
A few weeks ago, I had a chance to meet and have dinner with Riva Greenberg. Riva is another PWD(person with diabetes), author and diabetes advocate and she shared with me that she is an A1c champion. For me, Riva embodies those traits for being a champion: an A1c in the 5s after more than 30 years with diabetes, someone who is interested in helping others, articulate and sharing of ideas and friendship. The A1c champions program is supported by Sanofi Aventis pharmaceutical and I recently had the chance to speak with Susan Harris, who spearheads A1c Champions, about the program.
The A1c champions program was started in 2003. During focus groups, meetings with physicians, cde’s and industry representatives, leaders noticed that in every group, they could identify patients who were in control of their diabetes by how they offered leadership to the rest of the group. What the research provided was the beginning of the diabetes industry’s understanding that there are patients who were empowered, confident and savvy enough help others by exhibiting their enthusiasm for living well by simply managing their diabetes!
What makes a1c champions program successful are patients who successfully manage their diabetes educating and motivating other patients. Champions share their personal "story," and by walking in the same shoes they are able to inspire fellow patients in a way that medical professionals cannot. A1c champion sessions are promoted through doctor's offices, CDEs and also Sanofi Aventis sales team members. A doctor can make the request for a champion through the A1C champions website, and then there are sessions, which are designed to help patients begin to take control through goal setting, building new habits and also a little bit of empowered thinking exercises!
Riva says, "I feel patients can ask me questions they're probably shy to ask their provider. Also, when I talk about how we can all eat a little healthier and and how much I do in a day, from writing books and articles to traveling around the country speaking, they are inspired. They can see doing a little better themselves and light at the end of the tunnel. Then too, many of my Champion friends say giving the programs keeps them motivated!"
Where Can I Find an A1c Champions Program?
At present, the A1c champions program has 72 champions and does about 650 sessions across the US, some in Spanish, but the good news is they are looking to expand! If you think you are a candidate to be an A1c champion, you should contact the program! A1c Champions are selected from type1 and type 2 pools.
Here are the requirements:
- You must be on insulin and you need to have an a1c below 7, although being above 7 for a medical reason is acceptable.
- Are you friendly, a good speaker and able to travel? These are the must haves for becoming an A1c champion.
- You will give between 1 and 2 presentations per month. The program covers travel expenses and training costs. For requirement list, click here. There's also a small honorarium.
(Note: A1c Champions is an unbranded program and does not speak to specific drugs or therapies.)
And if you are someone looking to become an empowered patient and think this program will help, then talk to your doctor and ask for a champion to visit! With the growing number of patients and the shrinking number of doctors and few CDEs to cover all the bases, we need programs that promote education and community and this one does it!
Full disclosure, I have a relationship with Sanofi Aventis, but, even without that I still would sing the praises of this program, because it does something unique for people living with diabetes: it supports both empowering patients and gratefully acknowledges those who are empowered patients!