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Care Team Spotlight: Ashley Bustos, RN

Ashley Bustos joined the education team at the UMass Memorial Diabetes Center of Excellence (DCOE) in 2022 as a diabetes nurse educator.  She has been working as a nurse at Milford Regional Hospital since 2015 and continues to work in Milford as a floor nurse two days a week.  Ashley enjoys the care team model at the DCOE and finds it to be beneficial to patients.  “I think it’s very important especially in an outpatient setting to work as a team to make positive changes in people’s lives.”

In the hospital, when someone is admitted with a diabetes complication or diagnosed with diabetes, they provide “hard and fast learning during the short time they’re in the hospital and we schedule follow-ups, but it’s a lot of information to absorb all at once.”

Ashley strongly believes that it’s important to understand any disease before you can manage it properly.  “I’ve always been an advocate for patients to comprehend what’s happening to their body and how to make proper adjustments.”

She finds that some people don’t even know what medication they’re currently taking.  “They’ll tell me they take two white ones in the morning, a red one sometimes and a blue one at night, but they have no idea what they’re for.  You can’t make the right decisions if you don’t have a good understanding of what’s occurring and why.”

Most Rewarding Aspect of Being a Diabetes Educator

“When people connect the dots and realize what they must do to make a difference in their health.  Not only those who are newly diagnosed, but people who have had diabetes for years but haven’t necessarily understood what was happening in the background.  The longer you have diabetes, your journey changes and your care plan must be adjusted as well.  It’s extremely rewarding to teach someone and see the lightbulb go off and they finally get it.”

Using Technology to Manage Diabetes

Some of Ashley’s patients who remember checking blood sugars by urinating on a stick, and then began using blood glucose meters when they were first introduced, are blown away by today’s continuous glucose monitors (CGM).  One gentleman told her that “people who are newly diagnosed don’t understand the hardships!” 

“Often when people first start using a CGM, they’ll call us or send a myChart message saying that their blood sugars have never been so high.  I educate them that the data they’re seeing is data that’s been occurring all along, but they weren’t capturing it in the few times a day they were sticking their finger to check their blood glucose.  Now they’re receiving 24 hours of continuous information and it’s eye opening.  It also allows their care team to adjust their care plan based on what’s actually occurring.”

Benefits of Diabetes Education

“There are benefits for people who are newly diagnosed as well as those who have had diabetes for years but are struggling to maintain their blood sugars within a healthy range.  Everyone needs to understand what’s happening within their body to make better decisions.  We can’t overwhelm people with too much information at one time.  It’s important to meet people where they are and make small, manageable changes that can be adhered to and sustained over time.  We work in tandem with their endocrinologist, nurse practitioner and primary care physician.  Our diabetes education appointments can be held in person or by telehealth video meetings if that’s more convenient for people.  Topics we cover include medication & insulin education, healthy eating, glucose monitoring, problem solving, and healthy coping."

About Ashley

Her mother was a nurse and Ashley knew from a young age that she wanted to work in healthcare.  She received her associate degree in nursing from Quinsigamond Community College.  Ashley worked as a nurse at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution in Framingham, worked at a nursing home, and at Milford Regional, while completing her bachelor's degree in nursing from The University of Texas at Arlington.

She and her husband have a son who plays hockey, lacrosse & enjoys snowboarding. “He likes any sport that’s expensive,” she joked.  They have a dog & cat at home and also look after Ashley’s younger sister and brother. 

Personal Favorites

Hobbies: Hiking, kayaking, spending time as a family outdoors

Music: Enjoys all types of music including pop, rock, country, 90’s rap and oldies

TV Shows: Big Bang Theory, Seinfeld, Law & Order SVU

Podcasts: Wiser Than Me with Julia Louise-Dreyfus, Rink Shrinks (hockey podcast)

Local Restaurants: Worcester Public Market in the canal district which offers food including Mexican, African, Japanese and others to choose from