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Dr. Bill's Commentaries

Too Many Cooks, and a Modest Proposal   (March 21, 2014)

Update January 13, 2016: The ACDE is defunct. See One Less Cook
Update July 22, 2015: My proposal for a meeting never came to fruition. But the newest organization mentioned below, ACDE, seems to have withered: their website shows no current activity, and the last newsletter they've posted is from last year.

The field of diabetes has too many cooks, and as is well known, "Too many cooks spoil the broth." So I'd like to make a modest proposal (below). I'm talking specifically about the fact that there are too many diabetes organizations in the United States speaking for various constituencies.

The latest is another diabetes education organization. There's already ADA (the American Diabetes Association), AADE (the American Association of Diabetes Educators), NCBDE (the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators), and now the ACDE (the Academy of Certified Diabetes Educators). That's way too many. And if you add other organizations with a diabetes focus, including the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), AACE (American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists), the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, formerly known as the American Dietetic Association (which doesn't seem to like the acronym AND), plus Federal agencies (NDIC, NIDDK, NDEP, and CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation), there are simply too many cooks.

Why do I feel this way? Well, the main purpose of diabetes should be to help the patient with diabetes. Secondary concerns should be public and professional education, research, and lobbying. These goals are already being met, and indeed efforts are being reduplicated by the different organizations.

And which organization(s) is/are appropriate to support? When volunteers are choosing to help in the cause of "Fighting Diabetes" or "Curing Diabetes" they can pick and choose amongst
several research venues, including ADA and JDRF and other regional or local research organizations that I haven't even mentioned.

Or when diabetes educators want to learn more about diabetes education, they can spend their time (and their dues money) with the ADA, the AADE, and now the ACDE. Too many organizations -- all these organizations implicitly are teaching the teachers the same techniques, and whether the educator should join one or another is now a matter of how well the organization can market itself.

Why have so many diabetes organizations evolved? I suspect it's disgruntled special-interest groups that felt that the existant organizations didn't meet their needs. So, the JDRF split off from the ADA because some folks felt the ADA wasn't spending enough time and money on research to find a cure; AADE split off from ADA because educators felt ADA wasn't spending enough attention to non-physician healthcare professionals, and this year, ACDE split off from AADE because of "a deep desire to craft an organization focused on the needs of the CDE and to offer a platform where they could engage in dialogue and activities to both enhance their platform of service and to reach out to their colleagues in a meaningful and exciting manner." (Or, in other words, AADE wasn't meeting their needs.)

Can this problem be resolved? Perhaps. I'd like to suggest that the US diabetes organizations have an exploratory meeting at the time of the ADA meeting in San Francisco in June. My proposal:

Subject: Initial meeting of US diabetes organizations to develop an agenda for interorganizational cooperation/coordination
Place: San Francisco (exact location TBD)
Time: TBD - sometime during ADA meeting (June 14th morning to 16th evening 2014, I'd think).
Purpose: Assure that diabetes patients, healthcare professionals, the public, and legislators hear a consistent message from diabetes organizations.
Agenda: Develop mission statement, milestones, and future meeting locations for diabetes interorganizational cooperation and coordination. Appoint coordinator(s) for these
Invitees: Leaders representing

  • AACE?
  • AADE
  • ACDE
  • ADA
  • AND?
  • bloggers & websites? (e.g.,,,, others?)
  • CDC?
  • JDRF
  • NDEP?
  • NIDDK?
  • Others?
  • Observers (e.g., industry representatives?, international leaders if attending ADA: IDF, CDA, etc.?)

It's way too much to ask these diabetes organizations to merge. Some people have a lot of time and energy invested in one organization or another, and the paid staffers of these organizations
would risk being out of a job if organizations merged. But maybe if all the organizations can sit down and talk with each other, they can learn to work together to help people with diabetes.

It's worth a try.

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Dr. Bill Quick began writing at HealthCentral's diabetes website in November, 2006. These essays are reproduced at D-is-for-Diabetes with the permission of HealthCentral.

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This page was last updated January 13, 2016

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