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Release Date: 6/21/2012

Nancy Trebilcock honored as 'Diabetes Educator of Year'

Nancy Trebilcock, BSN, R.N., CDE

Nancy Trebilcock, BSN, R.N., CDE , right, shows her Diabetes Educator of the Year award to a colleague.

Nancy Trebilcock, BSN, R.N., CDE, was one of those kids who always knew which career path she would follow – from the time she was a toddler.

“I wanted to be a nurse since I was three years old,” Trebilcock said. “I just always knew what I was going to do, all of my life.”

Trebilcock never regretted her decision. She’s been a nurse for 39 years and a Certified Diabetes Educator for the past 19, the last three in the Diabetes & Nutrition Education Services Department of St. Anthony’s Medical Center.

Her continuing passion for educating patients was recognized recently by the St. Louis Diabetes Educators, a Local Networking Group of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. She was named 2011 Diabetes Educator of the Year, for “outstanding leadership, service and dedication to diabetes education.”

Trebilcock, who lives in Wentzville with her husband of 40 years, Bill, said she was surprised and gratified to receive the award. “I love what I do,” Trebilcock said, adding with a laugh, “If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t drive 47 miles each way to do it!”

Trebilcock started her nursing career in orthopedics, working mainly in hospitals in North St. Louis County. The hardest part of the transition to diabetes education was “giving up the care of the patient back to the patient,” Trebilcock said. She explained, “In orthopedics, we can ‘fix’ a broken bone; with diabetes, a chronic illness, the patient is the primary person caring for his or her own condition. I’m just one of the tools in the toolbox we provide to patients to help them live with that chronic illness.”

Trebilcock now works primarily in St. Anthony’s Outpatient Department, educating patients one-on-one and in group classes. She focuses on educating people who are at risk of developing or who already have been diagnosed with diabetes and related conditions, helping them to achieve behavioral goals that lead to better health.

“Most of the time, people have so many fears and misconceptions regarding diabetes,” she said. “I try to dispel those fears and give them good, basic background information on how they can improve their health. I put on my ‘mom hat’ and tell them that their diabetes is their responsibility – not their doctors’ or their families’ – and I help them to take charge of it.”

Trebilcock also often provides programs for other educators and for the community. She has been active in the St. Louis LNG for several years, an officer for three years and currently serves as chairperson. She also serves as the interim chairperson for the Missouri AADE Diabetes Educators.

Mary Lawrence, Trebilcock’s manager at St. Anthony’s and a recipient of the 2004 Diabetes Educator of the Year award, said she was thrilled to see her employee honored. “Nancy’s done unbelievable work in our organization, both locally and statewide. She is very active and very dedicated; she’s worked hard to promote the organization.”

But Trebilcock’s dedication to her patients is even more outstanding, Lawrence said. “She always makes her patients feel at ease, and her presentations in the community are well-received. She is very thorough and is always bringing us new information on diabetes. Nancy is very passionate about her job.”

Trebilcock said her biggest frustration is the fact that diabetes is on the upswing, and not just because of improved diagnostic testing. “People are living longer, eating less healthy foods, growing more overweight, becoming less physically active and experiencing more emotional stress in their lives,” she said. “We now are seeing type 2 diabetes in children as young as eight years old.”

It’s a challenge Trebilcock faces every day – educating both her patients and the community about how to prevent, recognize, treat and live with diabetes. It’s a challenge she willingly accepts.

“I try to provide help, hope and the chance to live a healthier life,” she said. “It’s just the job I was always meant to do.”

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