Brett Rawlins, FNP

Brett Rawlins has built upon his experience and education to become a respected professional in the management of diabetes and other hormonal disorders. He practices with Dr. Khaldoun Al-Rayess in Tanner Clinic’s Endocrinology Center.

Brett, a native of Kaysville, Utah, received his bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Utah. He continued on to Westminster College, where he earned a master’s degree in nursing and specialized as a Family Nurse Practitioner. He carries certification and Utah licensure as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse.

Brett began his nursing career as an RN in the newborn intensive care unit at LDS Hospital. He continued these responsibilities for three years at Primary Children’s Medical Center, as well as at McKay-Dee Hospital Center.

He specialized in diabetes management and other endocrinological disorders as a FNP at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. Following a term at Davis Endocrinology and Diabetes, he joined Tanner Clinic in 2012. This is Brett’s second position with Tanner Clinic — he spent part of his required FNP clinical experience working in the Pediatric Center with Dr. Frank Krammer (now retired).

Brett lives with his wife and two children in Syracuse. He’s a golf-lover who enjoys spending time with his family and, when weather permits, barbecuing.

Patient Forms

To save time at your next appointment, fill out this medical history form and bring it to your appointment.

What patients are saying about Brett Rawlins, FNP

“He is great! My A1C went from over a 12 to a 6.4 in three months, thanks to him! I would recommend him to anyone who is struggling with diabetes.”   —   Kristy on Facebook, March 24, 2015

“He is my daughter’s endocrinologist and has helped her so much with Hashimoto’s (disease). He is so positive and always encouraging.”   —   Tracy on Facebook, March 24, 2015

“I visited the office of Brett Rawlins today. Brett was very personable and asked several times what questions I had. He explained things to me in detail and had a teaching approach. He was not arrogant at all. He seemed to genuinely want to help me feel better and didn’t assume I was lazy and fat. He seemed very thorough and ordered many blood tests that I have hoped other doctors would order (but they said were unnecessary). I look forward to returning and continuing my care.”   —  Wendy, comment form, June 12, 2014

“Brett Rawlins was very nice. He’s always there to help me and listens to my fears about the coming procedures. I would like to recommend him for being such a great nurse practitioner.”   —  Kristen, in-clinic comment card, April 25, 2014


Juvenile Diabetes: What to Watch For

Diabetes-boy-illo1Type 1 diabetes affects 1 in 400 children — children such as the preschool-aged son of Brett Rawlins, a nurse practitioner specializing in diabetes management at Tanner Clinic.

In the already crazy schedule of child-rearing, trying to control the diet of a toddler adds a double helping of chaos. “He gets insulin shots and we check on his sugar each day,” said Brett. “He’s a pretty good little sport about it.”

Type 1 diabetes results when the pancreas does not produce insulin, a hormone that enables people to get energy from food. The disease usually manifests before a child is 20, but it can appear at any point in life.

Concerned that your child may have type 1 diabetes? Brett describes the primary signs:

▸ Urinating more than normal: Kids who are potty-trained will start wetting the bed at night, for instance. A child may begin to get up several times during the night; or, during the day, a child will pee every one to two hours.

Drinking more than normal

Sudden weight loss

Fatigue or lethargy

Abrupt onset of symptoms: “The week prior the child was healthy and running around doing well,” said Brett, “and this week there are flu-like symptoms and no energy.”

Brett is optimistic about the outlook for his little son. “Hopefully, he can live to be in his 70s and 80s with no concerns,” he said. “It depends on his control — and how far we advance in technology.”

Technological advances under development include an “artificial pancreas,” a “smart pump” that measures blood sugar and automatically supplies insulin. “I’m hoping in 10, 20, 30 years, it may not even be an issue for him anymore.”

— Tanner Clinic staff


Managing Diabetes Is Personal Cause for Tanner Provider

As a kid with type 1 diabetes, Brett Rawlins was in and out of doctor offices — so often that one physician commented, “As much as you’re here in the clinic, why don’t you join the ranks?”

“I was like, ‘That’s a good thought!’” Rawlins says. He still thinks so — as a family nurse practitioner at Tanner Clinic specializing in diabetes management.

How to manage this incurable and progressive disease is foremost on his mind. Nearly three-quarters of his patients in Tanner Clinic’s endocrinology department deal with diabetes; of these, the great majority suffer from type 2.

In addition to the daily management of his own diabetes, Rawlins’ 2-year-old son has the disorder. “We’re highly involved,” he says. “We pray for a cure.” But in the meantime, “We do what we can do to make this disease manageable.”

For a 2-year-old, that’s as hard as teaching a tadpole to rest. “His appetite’s so crazy — sometimes he eats, sometimes he doesn’t,” said Brett. Every day, there are insulin shots and blood-sugar checks, but “he’s a pretty good little sport about it.”

For the rest of us, well, Brett is there with lots of guidance and support.

It all goes back to insulin

Types 1 and 2 diabetes may share the same name and end result — abnormalities in the way insulin is produced and used — but they’re completely different disorders, said Brett.

Type 1, which used to be known as juvenile-onset diabetes, is an autoimmune disease, where one’s own immune cells attack the insulin cells produced in the pancreas. The result is that this organ won’t produce insulin. “You have to replace that insulin; there’s no way around it,” he says.

Scientists aren’t sure what sparks the onset of type 1 diabetes, which most often manifests itself during or before the teenage years. Because the causes aren’t known, it’s hard to predict or prevent. There’s some kind of genetic predisposition, said Brett. But also, “there has to be some kind of environmental trigger that sets it off to attack the cells.”

Recent studies, he adds, suggest that the trigger may be a protein. “They’re thinking if they can alter it or suppress it, maybe we can stop the environmental trigger,” he said.

An upcoming epidemic

Type 2 diabetes, which usually appears after age 35, is the result of several factors, including genetics. But the largest influence is obesity. That’s what makes this disease so alarming.

Obesity, says the Centers for Disease Control, is at epidemic proportions, with one in three Americans overweight. If this trend continues, researchers anticipate that by 2020 nearly 50 percent of adults will have diabetes or pre-diabetes.

“That means one in two people will have type 2 diabetes!” said Rawlins.

Those extra pounds, Brett explains, cause cells to become resistant to insulin, which converts sugars in the blood to energy. The result is that glucose builds up in the blood instead of being absorbed by the cells. That, in turn, “will make your pancreas work harder — basically wearing it out faster.”

Type 2 diabetes sneaks up

Type 2 diabetes can be treated with the patient’s help — diet changes and exercise have a huge impact. Medications also play a role. However, said Rawlins, “A lot of type 2 patients will ultimately end up on (injectable) insulin because we’ve worn out the pancreas and it’s not producing insulin.”

The worry, said Rawlins, is that type 2 diabetes is often not detected in its early stages. Signs of the disease can show up in the blood tests done during regular physicals. But many times, it’s the complications caused by advanced symptoms that alert people, including kidney damage, neuropathy in the feet, and vision problems.

The disease, Brett notes, “is often diagnosed by an eye doctor” because the individual is suffering from blurriness and loss of vision.

Diabetes is managed, not cured

Diet changes, weight loss and exercise — these all work to control the symptoms and reduce the impact on sufferers’ daily lives. These factors can also keep a type 2 patient from having to receive insulin. But watch out, he adds, success often makes patients lackadaisical.

“A lot of people will say, ‘I changed my diet and lost weight, and now I don’t have diabetes’,” said Brett. “Well, yes, you have diabetes,” and it still needs to be managed.

Patients with diabetes — both type 1 and 2 — “can still live happy lives, there’s no doubt about it,” says Brett. “But you have to pay attention to it, you just can’t ignore it.”

And for many patients with diabetes, Brett is an effective guide as they walk that path. Because of his own daily battle, says Brett, “I’m in the trenches with them. I understand what it feels like.”

Brett encourages diabetics to remember “the big picture.” “There’s always going to be that random day when you don’t feel well’ But we’re shooting for the nine out of 10 days where we say, ‘This is great.’”