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The Important Role of a Nurse Practitioner in Diabetes Care

Care Team Spotlight: Christine Hoogasian - Diabetes Nurse Practitioner

Misconceptions about Nurse Practitioners in Diabetes Care

"Many patients don't understand the role and capabilities of a nurse practitioner when it comes to their diabetes care," said Christine. "NPs are taught two models of care, both the medical model and the nursing model. The role of a nurse practitioner varies from state to state." 

Massachusetts has one of the largest NP workforces in the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. To work as an NP in Massachusetts, one must enter into a collaborative agreement with a physician which allows them to diagnose and treat patients. That includes prescribing medication, insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors. NPs do not require a physician to co-sign medication prescriptions. 

Nurse practitioners in Massachusetts provide health care services including health promotion, disease prevention, health education, counseling and making referrals to specialists as needed. They may also diagnosis and manage chronic illness and disease. A nurse practitioner fills multiple roles in diabetes care, as they diagnose, educate, counsel and treat this growing patient population. 

A Team Approach to Quality Care at the UMass Memorial Diabetes Center of Excellence 

The UMass Memorial Diabetes Center of Excellence (DCOE) operates under the unique model of a team approach to diabetes care. Endocrinologists work together with nurse practitioners, certified diabetes care and education specialists (CDCES), registered dietitians (RD), licensed practical nurses (LPN) and primary care assistants (PCA). The DCOE also works closely with other specialty clinics including diabetes eye specialists, kidney care and weight management.  

Throughout the year, patients will meet with various members of their care team, both in-person as well as convenient telehealth appointments from the comfort of home.

The DCOE care team works closely with primary care physicians (PCP) to make sure all patients receive the best, most up to date and consistent diabetes care possible. After each office visit, the physician or NP enters appointment notes, not only to communicate with one another, but the notes are also sent to the patient’s PCP. This communication is essential for quality diabetes care.  If a PCP finds an A1c to be high, they'll recommend an earlier appointment to the DCOE.     

Nurse practitioners at the UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence provide full patient assessments, and in addition to prescribing, changing and/or regulating medication, can also screen for and diagnose complications from diabetes and make the appropriate specialist referrals. They can diagnose neuropathy, high cholesterol, hypertension, check for retinal changes, check kidney urine test results and determine whether a blood glucose level is acceptable for surgery. 

Many of our patients see their endocrinologist once a year then their NP & CDCES for the other three quarterly appointments. Diabetes care requires a trust-based relationship between the health care provider, patient and the patient’s support system. It's important to establish a rapport with your health care provider.

Christine Hoogasian, DNP, ACNP-BC, MSN, MS

  • BS in Biology from Framingham State
  • BS in Nursing from Fitchburg State
  • Master’s in Animal Science from University of New Hampshire
  • Master’s in Nursing from UMass Graduate School of Nursing
  • D.N.P (Doctor of Nursing Practice) from UMass Amherst
  • Currently (2022) working towards a Master’s degree in Public Health (MPH) from Rivier University.

Christine began working at UMass Memorial Health Care in 2008 as a staff nurse at Memorial Hospital. She enjoys helping people manage diabetes because it allows her to treat a multitude of health complications. Christine continues to educate herself by taking classes to broaden her knowledge of healthcare and health problems across the world. She's interested in the medical needs of people from various cultures.

In addition to working as a nurse practitioner (NP) at the UMass Memorial Diabetes Center of Excellence, Christine is an adjunct nursing professor at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) in Worcester, MA and Rivier University in Nashua, NH. She also precepts students from MCPHS and UMass Chan Medical School.

  • Christine has two dogs & three cat
  • Runs long distances regularly and trains for ultra marathons
  • Favorite TV Show: Game of Thrones
  • Enjoys watching hockey (Worcester Railers) and baseball (Red Sox)
  • Favorite Local Spot: Moore State Park