7 Reasons Why We Should See a Diabetes Specialist Rather than a GP


Diabetes is an extremely serious disease and it has the potential to cause tons of complications. It takes spot on care and attention to effectively manage diabetes. Even then it doesn’t always have a positive outcome.

So let’s start off with a simple question. Who would you rather administer care and treatment to you or a loved one who has diabetes? A physician who does not specialize in one particular area of medicine? Or would you rather a physician who has dedicated years to studying and treating in the specialty of diabetes? General practice is a vast area of medicine and it’s impossible to be an expert in everything. Don’t get me wrong, there are general practitioners that are great at providing treatment for this disease. However, they will fall short compared to a diabetes specialist or endocrinologist.

An endocrinologist is a specialist who has thoroughly studied hormonal conditions and knows the best possible treatments, even when conventional treatments do not work well. Unlike a family doctor or general practitioner, an endocrinologist studies hormones and hormonal diseases in depth, and this specialist will be able to provide the best possible treatment. Most general practitioners have the skills necessary to diagnose and treat basic hormonal conditions, but sometimes the help of a specialist is needed.

After a routine checkup with my GP I discovered that my HBA1C was 8.4%. This was not good at all. I needed to get it down to the 6% range. I explained some of the challenges I experienced to my doctor hoping that she would offer new solutions for my treatment. At the end of our lengthy discussion I was referred to a diabetes specialist at the Barbados Diabetes Centre. It turns out that this was definitely the best solution from my GP.

The level of care, attention I received and the knowledge about diabetes was absolutely incredible. I asked tons of questions about diabetes, nutrition and general health and all were met with sound applicable answers. With their help I was able to get my HBA1C down to 7% within a couple of months. Even though my referral was only for 6 months, I decided to keep seeing them for all my diabetes treatments and checkups.

Here are 7 Reasons Why We Should See a Diabetes Specialist

1. To adequately learn about and understand diabetes.

There is the saying that knowledge is power. This is quite true especially when it comes to understanding and managing diabetes. Treatment for diabetes starts with learning about the disease and how to effectively manage it. If you can’t find the right information and help from your GP you should see a diabetes care team to receive adequate diabetes education.

2. Conventional treatment may not be working for you.

Your primary care doctor or GP may be doing the best they can, but the standard treatment options don’t always work for everyone. Some persons with diabetes stick to their treatments religiously, but they achieve no positive results. Endocrinologists and diabetes specialists use a wide range of treatments to help you control your diabetes. They can introduce you to new medications and programs that may be unavailable or unknown to you GP.

3. To know about the latest research or treatment options.

A specialist will be aware of the latest research or treatment options available. There are always new and improved treatment options being developed for diabetes.

4. To participate in research.

If you are interested in contributing to diabetes research, you may want to contact a diabetes specialist to learn more about ongoing research programs.

5. You need a care team including diabetes nurse educators, nutritionists, podiatrist and other specialists.

Just receiving a diagnosis and learning about diabetes often is not enough to help you manage it. Seeing a specialist will connect you with an entire diabetes care team whose members: nurse practitioner, dietitian, pharmacist, educator, and exercise physiologist—bring unique areas of expertise to help individualize your care according to your specific needs.

6. Endocrinologists and diabetes care teams can provide you with their expertise, tools, and resources specific to your individual symptoms and condition.

Exploring all your options will help you determine the best management plan and achieve the highest quality of life. Simply surviving and not being able to enjoy life is no way to live. It is possible to enjoy life to its fullest even with diabetes.

7. If you are having problems communicating with your doctor.

If you feel that your doctor is not listening to you or understanding your issues, you could see a specialist who will focus primarily on your diabetes. Sometimes a GP especially the ones at Polyclinics may have so many patients to see. As a result, they cannot spend the adequate time to fully assess your situation.

Diabetes should be monitored through routine check-ups by your doctor and full blood work every 3 to 6 months. The purpose of this review is to determine if treatment is satisfactory and to look out for any evidence of longer-term complications such as eye, kidney or foot problems, and to check for evidence of high blood pressure.

You should have the following things checked at least every 3 months:

  • weight
  • blood pressure
  • vision and eyes
  • legs and feet
  • urine for protein
  • HbA1C levels in blood, ie your long-term control of blood sugar
  • insulin sites, if part of treatment.

As part of your review, your doctor should ask you how you are managing, and discuss any issues, fears or uncertainties you have.

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