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Care Team Spotlight: Susan Kim, Diabetes Nurse Practitioner (NP)

Susan grew up in Fairfield, Connecticut. She was originally interested in forensic science and research, however after spending time in a UConn laboratory prior to graduating with a Molecular and Cell Biology degree, she realized working in a lab was not what she ultimately wanted to do. She decided to pursue a career in which she can interact with and help people. Susan enrolled and got accepted into the inaugural class of a new accelerated nursing program at UConn that provided graduates an opportunity to work towards becoming a Registered Nurse (RN). Upon completion, she spent two years working as a floor nurse at a hospital in Bridgeport, CT that provided valuable experience.

She continued her education at Boston College earning a Master of Science in Nursing with specialty in Family Nurse Practitioner. In 2012 Susan was hired at a primary care practice in Lowell, MA where she worked as an NP for more than eight years.

Interested in concentrating on one medical specialty she opted for diabetes. Type 2 diabetes was common among the patients she treated as a general practitioner. Like most people, Susan has family members living with type 2 diabetes, including her father.

“Everyone is affected by diabetes, whether personally or a loved one,” she said. “The mission statement of the Diabetes Center of Excellence at UMass Memorial appealed to me.” It reads: Develop a team approach to diabetes care, both for the individual patient and our entire population with diabetes, to improve patient outcomes, including patient & primary care physician satisfaction

Benefits of a Diabetes Specialty Clinic

"Working in general practice we dealt with many different problems on a surface level and it was only possible to accomplish so much during a visit. A diabetes specialty clinic allows me to delve deeper with each person. In addition to helping people manage blood sugars, we address lifestyle modifications, mental health and other issues associated with diabetes care. I get to know my patients better and can help on a deeper level with the many complications associated with diabetes."

Most Rewarding Part of the Job

"Seeing the reactions when people get a good result. I always let them know that improved numbers are due to their hard work and dedication achieved by following the plan we agreed upon. It’s rewarding to see people take control of diabetes instead of it controlling them. I love it when people make the necessary changes recommend by the care team resulting in them feeling better, having more energy and even coming off type 2 diabetes medications."

Challenges & Frustrations of Treating Diabetes

"Medication and treatment options are often based on the health insurance benefits of the person being treated. We must provide the best possible course of action within their allowable coverage. It's often frustrating when people are restricted by insurance decisions and high prices of medication and insulin."

Some people cannot afford medications, so they don’t fill prescriptions. By not following their treatment plan and taking prescribed medications and/or insulin, their blood glucose levels remain out of target range. Susan wants to let people know that neglecting diabetes often leads to serious health complications including heart disease, stroke, diabetic eye disease, neuropathy, and in some cases, amputations of limbs.

Type 1 Diabetes Patient Success Story

"Dr. [Samir] Malkani and I are treating a young woman who was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. She was extremely overwhelmed at first. With the help of our diabetes educators, she started wearing a Dexcom continuous glucose monitor (CGM). She quickly learned how to best manage her blood sugars with insulin. By her third visit with me her A1c was in the fives and her CGM is now almost a straight line. Now she's much more comfortable managing her diabetes."

Type 2 Diabetes Patient Success Story   

"Dr. [Vrushali] Shah and I work with a man who had an A1c in the double digits. He met with a diabetes educator several times, takes insulin and medication to control his blood sugars, and monitors them with a CGM. Requiring more frequent support, he was referred to our coaching care program. Our care team helped him lower his A1c below 7%. He then underwent a bariatric weight loss procedure which helps to promote early feelings of fullness and reduces food intake. He lost 60 pounds, his A1c decreased to 5.2% and he no longer takes any diabetes medication! He is a great example of utilizing multiple Diabetes Center of Excellence specialists and resources, making lifestyle modifications and working together with the care team to take control of diabetes." 


About Susan

She enjoys hiking and walking local parks & rail trails with her two dogs, a Shetland Sheepdog and Shih Tzu Sheltie mix. Susan recently adopted a kitten as well. 

Her hobbies include caring for houseplants and she loves being an aunt to her sister’s children and spending time with them.


Favorites

New England locations: Portland, Maine & North Shore Massachusetts beaches

TV Shows: Dateline & 20/20

Podcast: Crime Junkie

Movie: The Shawshank Redemption

Music: K-pop, particularly BTS

Food: Korean BBQ