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The Art of Empowerment

Feb 19, 2008

Shejal Parmar, University of Florida Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate, has reviewed the new book by Bob Anderson and Martha Funnell The Art Of Empowerment: Stories And Strategies For Diabetes Educators and recommends it for all medical professionals.

The Art of Empowerment
By Bob Anderson and Martha Funnell


Reviewed by Shejal Parmar, University of Florida Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate

            This book is based on the belief that diabetes is a self-managed illness. Once diabetes educators recognize and acknowledge that diabetes is self-managed they can empower their patients so that they have enough knowledge to make rational decisions; enough control; enough resources to implement their decisions; and enough experience to evaluate the effectiveness of their actions. This empowerment-based relationship requires educators to give up feeling responsible for patients and, instead, become responsible to patients.

            Empowerment is a patient-centered approach based on respect and compassion. It is based on the belief that human beings have an inborn drive to achieve their own physical, psychological, intellectual, and spiritual well-being. Diabetes educators have strong beliefs about what their patients should do, especially after seeing the devastation of end-stage renal disease, blindness, or amputations. Under this model, the educator should no longer feel responsible to solve all of their patient’s problems. Instead, it allows the educator to enter into a dialogue with their patient, during which solutions to problems emerge naturally from exploration of issues in a relationship based on trust and respect.
The empowerment model is based on the following key concepts:

  • Patient selection of learning needs and goals
  • Transference of leadership and decision making
  • Self-generation of problems and solutions
  • Analysis of failures as opportunities to learn and become more effective
  • Discovery and enhancement of internal reinforcement for behavior change
  • Promotion of increasing patient participation and personal responsibility
  • Emphasis on support networks and resources
  • Promotion of the patient’s own drive toward health and wellness

This book offers strategies for diabetes educators to practice the empowerment model and provide more effectively for their patients. The author’s believe that the best way to learn and grow is through reflection. This is because reflective practice requires educators to continually examine their vision, behavior, experience, and results. Reflecting back on strategies that have and have not worked can help a diabetes educator determine what strategies to use in the future.    

Stories from diabetes educators and patients have been used throughout this book. The patient stories were included to portray diabetes as a holistic experience comprised of psychological, intellectual, clinical, financial, cultural, spiritual, and social elements. Whereas, the educator stories showed that the vision set be educators is affected by their personal and professional lives, past experiences, goals, needs, and values.

At the end of every chapter there are questions designed to help stimulate the reader to reflect on their personal experiences, examine their fundamental assumptions and help them learn and grow. It provides the educator to reflect back and tell their own stories and learn from them. It also provides the educator with an opportunity to try some of the behavior change and educational techniques and see how they work.

In addition to the book, there is an empowerment workbook CD which includes interactive learning exercises for diabetes educators.

Overall, I believe this book was excellent. It provides diabetes educators with a different approach to help patients manage and learn about diabetes. The book not only tells them how to approach things differently, it also gives them the opportunity to practice what they are reading and learning about. This book is a valuable tool for educators that want to help their patients manage their diabetes to the best of their abilities.