Have you received diabetes education? Numerous studies demonstrate the effectiveness of diabetes self-management education (DSME), which includes improving both clinical and quality-of-life outcomes for those living with diabetes. The people providing DSME are often certified diabetes educators (CDEs). There were approximately 19,584 health professionals in the United States that held the CDE credential in 2018, according to the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE). Find out what a CDE does and how working with one can help you in better managing your diabetes.
A CDE is a health professional who specializes in educating, supporting and promoting self-management of diabetes. The intention is to help people living with diabetes and/or prediabetes develop individualized goals to better optimize their care and health outcomes.
Different kinds of health-care providers are eligible to become CDEs. The three most common types of health-care providers to hold the CDE credential include nurses (49 percent), registered dietitians (41 percent) and pharmacists (7 percent).
NCBDE and the CDE credential were established in 1986 in order to provide eligibility requirements, as well as an examination, for those providing direct care to individuals with diabetes. Unlike some other credentials, the CDE certification is a practice-based certification. This means that eligible health-care professionals are required to have professional experience working in the diabetes education field prior to taking the certification exam. In order to maintain the credential, CDEs are required to stay up to date on the latest in prediabetes and diabetes care by obtaining a specific amount of continuing education credits, or they can opt to retake the certification exam.
CDEs work in different types of environments, including hospitals, clinics, small practices, wellness centers, pharmacies, and for diabetes technology and medical device companies. The role of the CDE can vary depending on the work environment. CDEs are often involved in direct patient care, providing education and support in both the inpatient and outpatient hospital settings. CDEs are also often involved in the coordination of accredited DSME programs.
CDEs help problem-solve the challenges of diabetes care. CDEs support individuals by collaborating and determining an individualized plan to improve diabetes management. They address the unique aspects of a person’s life that impact diabetes care. All areas of diabetes self-care are covered, including adjustments that might be needed for diet, physical activity, blood glucose monitoring, medication dosing and even stress management.
Here are examples of a few scenarios where a CDE could help:
● You are starting a new diabetes medication and it’s an injectable but you are afraid of needles.
● You’ve been struggling with the cost of your diabetes medication and supplies.
● You’ve been having a challenging time with blood glucose management recently and can’t seem to get your numbers in the target range.
● You’re newly diagnosed with diabetes and don’t know what to eat.
● You’ve recently been diagnosed with gestational diabetes and need support during your pregnancy.
● You are starting to use your new insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor and need education on how to begin.
● You’ve been having frequent incidents of hypoglycemia while training for your next athletic event.
● You were recently diagnosed with prediabetes and want know what you can do to reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
CDEs provide not only valuable education, but also important ongoing support for diabetes care. A Joint Position Statement was released in 2015 by the American Association of Diabetes Educators, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Diabetes Association that identified four key moments when diabetes education might be especially helpful, including:
1. When someone is diagnosed with diabetes.
2. At an annual health evaluation.
3. When a new challenge is presented that impacts diabetes care, including financial challenges, emotional distress or medication issues.
4. When there are changes in a person’s health care.
Diabetes education received through an accredited diabetes education program is covered by Medicare as well as many other insurance plans. It is a recognized part of diabetes care. Call your insurance company to find out more information on your benefits regarding diabetes education.
Find a CDE near you by looking at the following online registries:
National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators
American Association of Diabetes Educators
Want to learn more about diabetes education? Read “Getting Educated and Staying Educated: Staying on Top of Your Diabetes” and “Diabetes Management: It Takes a Team.”
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