How a team member turned her diagnosis into a career
When Jane Suliga, RN, CDE, learned about her type 1 diabetes diagnosis during her first pregnancy 32 years ago, she didn’t know her diagnosis would become her life’s passion.
Jane stayed home with her three children for nine years before returning to work at Novant Health UVA Health System. She worked at Annaburg Manor, a nursing home that was part of Prince William Medical Center, for seven years until one day she attended a career fair for nurses. There, she spoke to team members from the then newly established diabetes center at Prince William Medical Center. After hearing her story, team members enthusiastically asked Jane to join the diabetes education care team.
For the past 16 years, she has dedicated her career to educating our patients and their loved ones on diabetes in Novant Health UVA Health System Prince William Medical Center Outpatient Diabetes Center. Jane sees two to three patients per day, educating them on diabetes. During each consultation, patients spend an hour with Jane and an hour with a dietitian. In addition to the daily consultations, Jane and her team members provide weekly classes for patients with gestational diabetes and monthly community classes for patients with type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes. The monthly classes last two to three hours each and include instruction on monitoring blood sugars, exercise and medical nutrition education. Classes are held at Prince William Medical Center and Novant Health UVA Health System Haymarket Medical Center.
Throughout her years working in diabetes education, Jane has seen significant improvements in diabetes care. When she was first diagnosed, no diabetes education was available. Her diabetes care was managed by her obstetrician. He instructed her on how much insulin she should take, and sent weekly reports to her doctor’s office. For many years she simply ate the same foods, took her prescribed insulin doses and measured her blood sugar levels. During the 1990’s she finally received guidelines on carb counting and how to adjust her insulin according to foods. It was a relieve for her to have more specific guidelines on how to adjust her insulin rather than just “adding a little more insulin.”
“Today, it’s a common misconception that patients with diabetes can’t eat many foods, but that’s a myth. It’s good for family members to attend classes so they can also learn how to approach things and what medications are available,” said Jane “I always saw my diagnosis as God’s way of making lemonade out of lemons. I understand what patients are going through as I experience it myself. I can do something good with my condition.”
Thank you, Jane for your compassion in helping our newly diagnosed patients learn to manage their condition.