Diabetes Awareness Month Profile: Sharon Howk Ventrudo

Sharon Howk Ventrudo is a psychologist at the Centre for Complex Diabetes Care (CCDC).

It’s Diabetes Awareness Month, and we’re highlighting staff at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre who play a vital role in diabetes care. Today, we’re sharing a Q & A from Sharon Howk Ventrudo, a psychologist at the Centre for Complex Diabetes Care (CCDC).

What does it take to be a psychologist?

A psychologist holds a master’s and/or doctoral degree in psychology that involves 6 to 10 years of university, studying how people think, feel, and behave. It helps to have a personality that is warm, empathic and approachable. Being self-aware, committed to diversity, grounded in ethics, sensitive and patient helps make for an effective approach and better relationships with patients.

What inspired you to work in diabetes care?

I have always had an interest in health psychology and the mind-body-spirit connection. By approaching our health in a holistic manner (addressing physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual health), we can try to optimize wellness. If one area is compromised, most likely other areas will be as well. Working at the CCDC provides the opportunity to work with these five aspects of holistic health and help people live each day in the healthiest, happiest way possible.

What is unique about your role?

Working at the CCDC is unique because a psychologist can specialize in health psychology and also has the chance to work with an inter-professional medical team. There is specific focus on how biology, psychology, behaviour and social factors influence health and illness.

How does your role impact patient care?

My role is to promote health, as well as to help prevent and treat chronic disease. My goal is to understand how patients react to, cope with, and adjust to a chronic illness. I want to encourage self-management of diabetes in daily life and improve quality of life.

Promoting a healthy lifestyle is part of your daily messaging to patients. Do you have any personal tips on how to stay healthy?

Whether it is a new diagnosis of diabetes or something else that is unwelcome in your life, use it as motivation to focus on what is important to you and give yourself some well-deserved self-care.