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Diabetes Care Specialist Education Requirements and Job Description

Diabetes care specialists require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and certification requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Hospitals and clinics often hire diabetes care specialists to communicate with patients about their diagnoses and treatment. These medical professionals hold advanced degrees and become certified in their field, having worked with diabetes patients for at least two years.

Essential Information

Diabetes care specialists are medical professionals who have completed extra training related to diabetes education. The duty of a diabetes care specialist is to ensure that their patients know the specifics of the disease and how to manage symptoms. Specialists can prescribe medications, advise patients about dietary choices and teach patients about monitoring insulin levels.

Required Education Must meet education requirements for their medical professions, such as degree in nursing or similar field
Other Requirements Minimum of two years working with diabetes patients and 1,000 hours of diabetes self-management education required to become certified diabetes educator
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 13% for all health educators
Median Salary (2015)* $51,960 for all health educators

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Diabetes Care Specialist Education Requirements

Many medical professionals, such as nurses, physicians and dietitians, choose to become diabetes care specialists. According to the National Certification Board of Diabetes Educators (NCBDE), diabetes care specialists, sometimes called diabetes educators, must fulfill the educational requirements of their profession prior to obtaining certification as a diabetes educator.

To become a certified diabetes educator (CDE), applicants must first earn advanced degrees in medical fields such as nursing, occupational therapy, pharmacology, podiatry, nutrition or social work The NCBDE also requires applicants to work specifically with diabetes patients for a minimum of two years. Prior to taking the CDE-exam, applicants must complete a minimum of 15 hours of continuing education coursework in classes related to diabetes treatment and care.

During the two years of work experience with diabetes patients, the NCBDE requires applicants to spend at least 1000 hours dedicated to diabetes self-management education (DSME). The American Association of Diabetes Educators notes that DSME education focuses on seven key areas of patient care including, taking medications, reducing health risks, healthy dietary habits, increasing physical activity, monitoring insulin, learning problem-solving skills and learning to cope with the disease.

Diabetes Care Specialist Job Description

Many physicians refer diabetes patients to diabetes care specialists because these professionals are qualified to give extensive advice on how diabetic patients can improve their health. For example, these professionals teach newly diagnosed patients about diabetes and steps to cope with the disease. Diabetes care specialists continue to work with patients to develop long-term strategies for maintaining a healthy diet, monitoring medications and increasing physical activity.

Diabetes care specialists teach patients how to use appropriate equipment, such as insulin pumps and blood glucose meters, to track and monitor diabetes. Oftentimes, diabetes patients must make radical changes to their diets, and it is the job of diabetes care specialists to inform patients about wise food choices. Specialists also keep track of patients' insulin levels over time and notate which medications provided the best results.

Employment opportunities for health educators, like diabetes care specialists, are expected to increase by 13% between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Professionals in this field earned a median salary of $51,960 in 2015.

Diabetes care specialists often start out as general medical professionals, such as nurses or dieticians. They must obtain certification to verify that they can teach diabetics to manage their health condition. Positions for health care educators, including those who work as diabetes care specialists, are expected to grow at a faster rate than the average for all occupations through 2024.

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