UK Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center Medical Director Kristen Stakelin, MD joined us for this week's edition of Making the Rounds. Dr. Stakelin is an endocrinologist who treats adults with diabetes, including Type 1 and Type 2, gestational, and post-transplant diabetes. The Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center is ranked No. 33 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for its comprehensive approach to diabetes treatment, education and research.
When did you become interested in medicine?
I have been interested in being a doctor for as long as I can remember. I said that from when I was really little. My whole family remembers me saying. I don't remember not saying that. It helps that my favorite subjects were math and science. My mother's a nurse, so I would go to the hospital with her a lot. I was the candy striper for a number of years at the hospital where she worked. And so I've just always thought I would do that.
Why did you pursue diabetes care?
I started out in internal medicine doing primary care and was in private practice but had always loved the care of diabetes. When I was in private practice, I was in a community where there was no formal diabetes education available. We were having to send people to Lexington or other places for diabetes education. Around that time I had a patient – she was a nurse. She had Type 1 diabetes, and she worked for a diabetes education company in Louisville. She and I started a diabetes education program in the town where I was practicing.
I had made some contacts here at UK where I had done my residency to see if I could come back and practice here part-time. I came back in the internal medicine department, but Barnstable Brown needed clinicians. With that background I had in my other practice, they approached me about working at Barnstable Brown, and I jumped at the chance. Perfect niche for me, and I’ve been here ever since.
What advice would you give patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes?
I would say be patient. It is overwhelming when you’re first diagnosed. There are so many things to learn about the disease and how to manage the disease that a lot of people feel overwhelmed and frightened. They don’t want to do a lot of the things because it’s such a lifestyle change. Take the time to get the diabetes education that you need to understand how to take good care of yourself and figure out what’s going to work for you, what fits into your lifestyle and your schedule. Trust your providers who have your best interest at heart, too, and will help you go down that journey.
What's your patient care philosophy?
I’m really approachable. I do often receive thanks from patients for sitting and listening. They’ll often say, “None of my other doctors sit and listen.” To give the other doctors credit, they probably don’t have a lot of time to be able to do that. When you come to see me or any of my colleagues, it’s a warm environment. It’s welcoming. We are patient-focused. You’ll get a good listener.
Watch our full interview to learn more about Dr. Kristen Stakelin and how she advocates for her patients.