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Getting to Know: Kim McNamara, RN, BSN, CDE — Diabetes Nurse Educator

providers in front of informative sign

With proper care, type 1 and type 2 diabetes are generally manageable conditions. Even so, treatment options are vast and care plans can be complex — a lot to navigate for anyone, especially a child. In Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego’s Division of Endocrinology/Diabetes, diabetes nurse educators like Kim McNamara, RN, BSN, CDE, (pictured on the far right with two of her teammates, Christy Byer-Mendoza, MSN, RN, CDE, and Ariane McClellan, RN, CDE) work with patients and their families to help make their unique diabetes experience as simple and stress-free as possible. Need to learn more about getting an insulin pump? Kim has you covered. Not sure how to handle your medication routine when going away from home for the first time? Connect with Kim. In recognition of all the important work Kim and diabetes nurse educators accomplish, and of American Diabetes Month, learn more about who Kim is — both as a professional and a human — in her own words.

What does a day in the life look like for you at work?

Every day is different, but usually involve reviewing patient’’ blood sugars and making adjustments to their insulin doses, holding education classes for patients and their families wanting to start with an insulin pump, and planning and creating new classes and programs for our patients with diabetes.

How did you decide upon your career path, and on focusing on pediatric diabetes care?

I was originally a pediatric emergency nurse in Canada and came to Rady Children’s on a travel assignment. I had some experience with caring for children with diabetes when they came into the emergency room for initial diagnosis or diabetic ketoacidosis, and I liked the complexity of the care they required. When I decided to stay in San Diego, there was a position available in the Division of Endocrinology/ Diabetes, and I decided to apply.

What do you love most about your job, and what do you find most challenging?

I love educating and interacting with the patients and their families. The most challenging aspect is working with insurance companies to get these children the medications and devices they need.

How many patients do you and your team manage? How do you collaborate on patient care?

We see about 1,500 children with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. We have a large team that includes physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, dietitians and medical assistants. We also work with school nurses throughout the community.

Imagine you’re having a movie made about you and your life. Who would you want to play you and why?

Elisabeth Schue. I’ve been told I look like her.

Would you rather spend a week living in the past or the future? Why?

The future, so I can see when the cure for diabetes is discovered.

If you could eat only three foods for the rest of your life, which would you pick?

Blue Bottle coffee, Italian food and nachos.

In an alternate universe in which you weren’t a nurse educator, what would be your career of choice?

Interior decorator.