Living with diabetes blog

Diabetes educators play key role

By Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N. and Peggy Moreland, R.N. March 13, 2010

Less than half of the people diagnosed with diabetes have had some type of self-management class, according to the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Only about 1 percent of Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes have had diabetes self-management training. That's shocking! Self-management education is an essential for optimal diabetes care, yet diabetes education programs are greatly underused.

Diabetes education offers people with diabetes or at risk for diabetes the knowledge and skills needed to modify behavior and successfully self-manage diabetes and its related conditions. Education helps people with diabetes to achieve optimal health status, and reduces complications such as coronary artery disease, limb loss, renal disease, and vision loss. It also improves quality of life and reduces the need for costly health care in the future.

We recommend that all those with diabetes should ideally meet with a certified diabetes educator (CDE). A CDE must meet several criteria in order to be certified in diabetes education. A CDE can be a registered nurse, dietician, doctor, pharmacist, or other licensed professional. To become a CDE, a healthcare professional must:

  • Complete at least 2 years of professional practice and be specifically involved with diabetes education for 2 qualifying years.
  • Acquire at least 1000 hours of experience in a health care environment where he/she provides services as a diabetes educator.
  • Must hold a job in a health care facility that treats diabetes on a regular basis.
  • Must work at least 32 hours a week in diabetes education.
  • Must successfully pass the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators examination. The fee for this exam is $350 and consists of 200 questions that you must complete within four hours.
  • Once a diabetes educator becomes certified, he/she must maintain certification by retaking the exam or gaining continuing education credits every 5 years.

CEDs have the expertise to help you manage your diabetes. They provide vital insights into self-care behaviors that help you keep your diabetes in check: managing blood sugar, medication and insulin dose adjustment instruction, monitoring and exercise information. Many CDEs also specialize in insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring sensors.

Most of all, the CDE empowers you to partner in your own health care. The American Association of Diabetes Educators provides a search tool to help you find a certified diabetes educator in your geographic.

International readers with diabetes should check with the International Diabetes Federation for a diabetes education specialist near you.

Have you visited with a certified diabetes educator in the past 12 months?


Mar. 13, 2010