UB Medical Students Support Teen Diabetes Patients, Gain Experience

Released: 5/5/2014

The D-Link support group, founded and run by University at Buffalo medical students, has been helping adolescents and young adults deal with the complexities of Type 1 diabetes since 2006.  Open to any Western New York Type 1 diabetic aged 12 to 20, D-Link provides peer interaction and fosters informed, pro-active disease management.

In the process of helping the teens, medical students learn to understand the disease from the patient perspective.  They also keep up on diabetes research, in part through regular journal club meetings.  In addition, medical students can gain research experience as well as clinical training at Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo (WCHOB), where most D-Link members receive care.

With 100 new cases of Type 1 diabetes diagnosed annually in Western New York, the free support group fills an important need.  Any topic related to life with diabetes and adolescence is up for discussion; recent sessions focused on snacking challenges and driving with diabetes.  In addition to informal bimonthly meetings, the group hosts an annual research presentation with an endocrinologist to inform members and their families about advances in Type 1 diabetes treatment.  Organizers also plan trips to sports events and other recreational outings for members and their friends.

“It’s really inspiring what these medical students do in running the group and also how the members themselves help each other out,” says D-Link’s faculty adviser Lucy D. Mastrandrea, MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics and attending physician in endocrinology at WCHOB.  “From the first year students arrive at medical school, they really are doing much more than sitting in a classroom.  They’re doing a great service for our community.”

Click here to read the full article on the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences website.