People to Know: Robin Nwankwo, MPH, RD, CDE
Robin Nwankwo is a diabetes educator extraordinaire. Whether working with individuals or groups of patients or training peers to provide support, Robin personifies the patient empowerment–based education approach. She never lectures, attempts to promote her own agenda, or doles out instructions. Instead, she gently asks questions, supports self-discovery, and helps people identify and address emotional and behavioral concerns.
By creating a respectful and caring environment and by giving participants the time and space to build their own capacity for self-management, she facilitates the learning and behavior change necessary to gain mastery over diabetes. Her patients learn about the management aspects of the disease but also about themselves, so that they create an approach to self-care that is consistent with their values, priorities, and culture. I have had the privilege of working with Robin for the past 15 years, and I am constantly in awe of her skills.
She's most deserving of the 2012 American Diabetes Association Outstanding Educator in Diabetes award, and it is wonderful to see her get the recognition that she so richly deserves. Her efforts have truly improved the lives of the many people she has touched, both personally and through ADA programs and activities. Because of her professional and personal experiences (including her late mother's type 2 diabetes), she never fails to focus first and foremost on people rather than on receiving accolades.
Martha Funnell, MS, RN, CDE, is an associate research scientist at the University of Michigan Medical School.