From Dietitian to Diabetes Educator: Shauna Prouten’s Michener Experience

Shauna Prouten is a Registered Dietitian who has been working in her field for over 30 years.

After graduating from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Human Ecology, she went on to pursue an internship at Foothills Hospital in Calgary. Since then, most of her career as a dietitian has been spent working in psychiatry and long-term care in Alberta. Seven years ago, she moved to Vancouver Island to work in acute, long-term and community care. It was her employer at Island Health on Vancouver Island who first encouraged her to look into the Diabetes Educator Certificate Program at The Michener Institute of Education at UHN (Michener).

“Island Health recognizes that the Michener program has an excellent curriculum for helping to improve our understanding of diabetes management. They want to build capacity in our services to help people with diabetes, because there are significant increases in the number of people who have diabetes, so we need to make sure the resources are there to meet those needs.”

After doing her own research on the program, Shauna believed it would provide a strong foundation in diabetes management, which she had not spent the majority of her career specializing in. While continuing to work full-time as a nutrition practitioner, she began the Michener program in January 2022.

From a classroom perspective, Shauna says the instructors were accessible and open to answering questions between sessions and she appreciated that the program was adult-education focused. “The program is well-established and well-set up; I valued the different ways that Michener engages their learners – the written, audio and video components, as well as group chats with classmates. These are all great ways to pull people in, to get them talking to one another and networking.”

Furthermore, she notes that the program provided an integrative team approach to learning about diabetes management, and she was able to gain different perspectives from her classmates. “Our group included students from nursing, pharmacy – we even had a physician. Having people with varied backgrounds and knowledge come together to have conversations and share important insights was extremely beneficial.”

As for the course learning outcomes, Shauna most valued the discourse aimed at examining education around diabetes. “The traditional medical model of saying ‘this is what you need to do’ isn’t as focused on creating a dialogue. We really need to meet people where they are at, looking at what their learning needs are, what their goals are for care, and to be able to help support them. I think that is what the program drove home for me – the importance of a client-centred approach.”

After completing the program in the summer of 2022, Shauna says the education she gained has helped build capacity in her current position. “In my community, I work specifically with people that are frail or may have co-morbidities that leave them home-bound. I feel it is very helpful to have the knowledge I have now, after taking this Michener program, to add to my practice in the community. I am seeing more people with diabetes now, and having that knowledge and resources to share with people is great.”

Shauna’s advice to anyone looking to take the Diabetes Educator Certificate Program through continuing education at Michener: “I would highly recommend it – it’s an excellent program. The reality is that Michener brings to the table a really client-centred approach, and an adult-education perspective on how to teach people about their diabetes. And how to engage them in the education process and assess learning needs, which is much better than just reviewing practice guidelines. It incorporates all of that into practice. It is a very valuable program for anyone that is interested in how to become a diabetes educator.”