04/04/11 Portland, Ore.
Clues to Ariela Brodsky’s career path started to appear as early as age 11, when she was diagnosed with insulin-dependent diabetes. “I always thought having diabetes was kind of cool. I loved showing my friends how I pricked my finger and how I used the blood to monitor my sugar level.”
Ariela’s goal to be a diabetes educator was formed at around that time, but she concedes that she took the long way there. “I excelled in math from an early age, and was initially interested in the engineering of diabetes pumps.” She enrolled as a biomedical engineering major in her native New Mexico, intending to seek a medical degree after she graduated.
However, a short cut appeared through a National Student Exchange opportunity at Oregon State University in her junior year. “I was able to take a higher-level class in Clinical Nutrition while I was there. I absolutely loved it, and realized that I could reach my goal much more quickly as a Registered Dietician.”
Now enrolled in the Clinical Nutrition Masters program in the OHSU School of Medicine, she looks forward to acquiring the personal and professional skills needed of an educator and supporting them with the evidence-based research protocols that tap into her ongoing love of math and data. She plans to focus her thesis on the relationship between diabetes and diet. “For me, food is medicine,” she said. “Food can cure, reduce and prevent certain conditions.”
Her early experiences with diabetes education will guide the type of educator she wants to be.
“There was one educator whom I felt really understood me and the issues I was facing,” she said. “She had diabetes as well, and that gave her an extra insight into how I was feeling.”
Ariela looks forward to a time when her personal experience, her clinical training and the discipline of research come together to improve patient health. “Diabetes can be scary, but patients always want to do as good a job as they can. I can help them by being positive and providing them the encouragement and the tools they need to manage their diabetes and get on with living their lives.”