“I never thought I would work at a cancer facility. Never.”
As a nurse specializing in diabetes management, Kaishawn McDuffie, B.S.N., R.N., C.D.E., smiles when recalling her first reaction to applying for a part-time position at City of Hope’s Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute’s outpatient diabetes clinic.
“I didn’t realize until I came here that City of Hope has treated and researched diabetes for more than 40 years. Like me, people don’t realize that major breakthroughs like synthetic insulin were developed because of research conducted here.”
The former Navy nurse became passionate about diabetes education when she worked at the American Diabetes Institute and found that “patients were always calling, asking where to find a doctor or what to eat. There was tremendous need for guidance.”
Her career in diabetes education spanned nonprofits, county government and medical facilities. “So many communities need good information on how to live with diabetes, because it’s not just about dealing with ‘a little touch of sugar.’ It’s about how you perceive the situations you experience.”
Over the last three years, McDuffie has grown awareness of City of Hope’s diabetes specialty with outreach to the community. With a team of physicians, nurses and community members, McDuffie launched an annual Diabetes Expo at City of Hope “to bring those with diabetes onto the campus and increase the awareness of what we do. For example, there are clinical trials here that are not available anywhere else.”
She also developed educational partnerships with the Duarte Chamber of Commerce and the Duarte Unified School District, and works on evidence-based nursing research projects that she hopes will contribute to knowledge about best practices in nursing.
“When you are passionate about something, you want it to grow so it can help as many people as possible,” she said. “I became a nurse to help people. Whether it’s diabetes or cancer, helping people or helping families, we are passionate about what we do here.”