What Is a Certified Diabetes Educator?

If you are passionate about diabetes and yearn to help others, you might consider pursuing a career as a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE).

Diabetes education, also called diabetes self-management training or diabetes self-management education, involves working closely with diabetes or at-risk diabetes patients.

A CDE follows specific guidelines. The American Association of Diabetes Educators outlines the self-care behaviors that can significantly boost a diabetes patient's quality of life. They include factors like taking medication and being active as well as tips to improve the personal and medical status of a patient. A CDE strives to make a difference in his or her patients' lives by giving them the tools to improve their lifestyle.

What does a CDE do?

Registered nurses, pharmacists, physicians, dieticians and more all fall under the CDE umbrella. They help diabetes patients learn more about their condition and ways to adopt their lifestyle. They set personalized goals and methods that apply directly to the diabetes patient's needs and concerns. Educators can work in hospitals, clinics and more, even managing their own education programs.

No matter the setting, each CDE gets to know the condition and habits of his or her patient. Through an assessment, the CDE identifies the areas in which a patient needs help. The results help the CDE gather the right information and set goals. After the patient implements some changes, the educator conducts an evaluation to see what changed or what might work better. The results, plan and assessment then get documented.

Individuals who pursue this career possess knowledge in areas like communication, biological sciences, education and counseling, and tend to have previously worked with people in a care position.

Because of the diversity of educators, five levels exist for classification. They run from level one, which denotes a non-healthcare professional, to level five, which marks an advanced level diabetes educator or clinical manager.

How does someone become a CDE?

Anyone who wants to become a CDE must take the Certification Examination for Diabetes Educators. Taking the examination requires a specific standing: In the medical field, the post of clinical psychologist, registered nurse, occupational therapist, optometrist, physical therapist, physician or pharmacist means an applicant qualifies – so long as he or she has a valid license.

Health care professionals with a Master’s degree in social work and some dietitians and exercise specialists also qualify. In addition, applicants must have two years of experience in their discipline as well as 1,000 hours of Diabetes Self-Management Education.

As the final requirement, an applicant must have 15 hours of continuing education related to diabetes, completed no more than two years before applying. Examinations occur during Spring and Fall, and the test costs $350.

Many online resources offer practice materials, so if you think the position might match your passion and skills, start researching today!

Sources: National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators and American Association of Diabetes Educators

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