Who Is a Diabetes Educator?
It is not reasonable to expect your doctor to do it all with a disease like diabetes. It is also not reasonable to expect you, the patient, to shoulder the rest of the burden.
Diabetes is a complicated illness that requires a lot from patients. Much of the burden can be shared with a diabetes educator.
A diabetes educator is a health care professional with a college degree in a health care discipline. To earn the Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) designation, a candidate must document more than a thousand hours of real-world experience educating people about diabetes and pass the CDE exam.
He or she must also be state registered or licensed as a:
- Registered nurse
- Registered Dietitian
- Physician Assistant
- Occupational therapist
- Physical therapist
- Clinical psychologist
In some situations social workers, exercise physiologists, health educators, and other allied health professionals may also apply for the CDE credential.
Why Should I Work With a Diabetes Educator?
The average visit with a physician is rather short. A physician’s strengths are diagnosing and treating health problems. In diabetes, their mightiest tool is the pen—the one that writes the prescription. They can and should answer your questions. However, their schedule is full of other people with diabetes and other health concerns. They are not going to be able to take an hour and do a good job of teaching you about diabetes.
Education is one of the most important tools in diabetes. CDEs have the expertise and time to walk you through what you need to know. Furthermore the price tag for a CDE’s time is much lower than an MD’s.
If you are new to diabetes an educator will walk you through the basics such as diet, medication, and exercise. If the disease progresses, or if your situation demands individual adaptations, your educator will work with you so you understand how to perform own your treatment. If you start insulin, don’t be surprised if it is an educator that helps you with your first shots instead your doctor.