Your diabetes care team may include multiple healthcare professionals, such as your primary care physician, an endocrinologist and a registered dietitian. You may also consult with a pharmacist or Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE*) for additional diabetes management information. Today I’d like to introduce you to someone who fills both those latter roles. Dr. Samuel Grossman, BS Pharm, Pharm.D, CDE, serves as a clinical pharmacist and diabetes educator at the Department of Veterans Affairs, New York Harbor Health Care System. In addition, he is the President of Diabetes Care On-The-Go, Inc., a diabetes education center in Brooklyn, NY.
In part, Samuel’s interest in diabetes care stems from his father, who lives with type 2. “It was very difficult for him to achieve the goals that he should because he simply could not understand the disease,” Samuel said. “He could not understand why he was sick or why he couldn’t eat different foods. He wants to eat other foods. The things that he couldn’t understand, he simply did not do well. I’ve worked with him to explain what he needs to know and after 15 years of medication therapy, diet and exercise, his blood sugar is under better control today.”
As Samuel worked on his doctorate in pharmacy, he grew more interested in diabetes care and became a Certified Diabetes Educator in 2006. In his work in diabetes education, he was reminded of his father. “Patients like him exist everywhere and just giving them written information is usually not enough,” Samuel said. “You have to spend time with patients to make sure they understand. That’s a way to try to ensure that they’re going to do well because when patients leave the office, they may take home a message that is different than what you expect. Spending time with patients and fostering a relationship helps them improve care.”
In 2009, Samuel helped form Diabetes Care On-the-Go which, according to Samuel, was the first pharmacy in the New York area to be approved by the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) to provide diabetes education. “We not only provided education services in a consultation area in the pharmacy,” he said, “but also sent diabetes educators and healthcare professionals to areas where patients aggregate to help make it easier for them to receive care. We sent diabetes educators to providers’ offices and had seminars in community centers, churches and temples where patients gathered. We forged a relationship with different groups where they were.”
The diabetes education center provides a variety of services for the community. “We have had significant success with providing education on healthy shopping and cooking,” he said. “I actually took a group of patients to the supermarket and then cooked together with them, in addition to discussing medication therapy and injection techniques.”
Samuel presented the results of the Diabetes Care On-the-Go community outreach education program at the AADE 2013 conference, outlining their success with providing diabetes education to senior citizens. “I valued the efficacy of this kind of a program and published it in a poster at the recent AADE meeting,” he said. “We had improvement in blood sugar control for the group that had been evaluated, as well as improvement in markers of blood pressure, lipid profile, less hospital admissions, less hypoglycemia and significant improvement in the depression scale. The program is very successful.”
Next Generation Pharmacist™ recently recognized Samuel’s efforts when they named him Specialty Pharmacist of the Year. “The award means a lot to me,” he said. “Basically it’s an appreciation for the work that I do. The award shows me that my work contributes a lot to the community, as well as across the country. It recognizes my devotion to patients, advocacy to improve patient care and awareness, and promoting pharmacists as providers of therapy.”
Samuel believes the combination of being both a pharmacist and a CDE plays a critical role in a diabetes care team. “A pharmacy is an optimal place to provide diabetes education,” he said. “First, the patient doesn’t need an appointment to walk into a pharmacy and second, the pharmacy is already providing medication advice to patients. The pharmacist can provide education to patients not only about the medication itself but also about things such as administration techniques and when to take the medication. Patients seem more willing to change their behavior when they meet more often with the diabetes educator and are able to ask questions.”
Asking questions and engaging in open communication helps establish a relationship between patient and pharmacist, according to Samuel. “Health professionals cannot help you unless you share what you’re feeling,” he said. “Let the diabetes educator or healthcare provider know what you feel will work for you or not, based on your lifestyle. Open up, ask questions and when you come to the same pharmacy, day in and day out or every month, a relationship is formed automatically.”
In addition to his work with Diabetes Care On-the-Go, Samuel also serves as a patient-aligned care team pharmacist for the Department of Veterans Affairs. “What I enjoy about working with veterans is their satisfaction once they see that they’re successful in therapy,” he said. “There’s a spark, and that’s what I love most about my job. It’s when patients are empowered. Once their diabetes management improves, they often feel better, they may feel more energetic. That’s what I love about it. I love to see that spark.”
Samuel’s dedication to his work and his patients is obvious, and it is impressive to learn about all he has accomplished within his community. Many thanks to Samuel for sharing his insights.
All the best,
Disclosure: Samuel Grossman received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.
*“Certified Diabetes Educator” and “CDE” are certification marks owned and registered by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE). NCBDE is not affiliated in any way with Sanofi US. NCBDE does not sponsor or endorse any diabetes-related products or services.
Next Generation Pharmacist is a registered service mark of Parate Systems, LLC.