Whether you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes, or have had it for years, you know that it takes a lot of work and commitment to take care of yourself and control your blood sugar.
The best and most successful approach to diabetes care is to work with a health care team who is familiar with diabetes. This team will include a physician or other medical provider, a dietitian and/or diabetes educator, an opthamologist, and possibly a counselor or therapist, a cardiologist (heart specialist) and / or nephrologist (kidney specialist).
Although there are many people on your "team" you are the team leader. Your team members are experts in their specific fields; you are the expert on you. Only you know everything that goes on with you day after day. Remember being in grade school, and choosing teams for PE class? This is similar - you, as team leader are in charge of choosing the members of your team.
What's a CDE?
A CDE is a Certified Diabetes Educator, certified through the National Certification Board of Diabetes Educators. In order to become a CDE, a person must complete the following:
- At minimum, a bachelors degree in a health-related field such as dietetics, pharmacology or nursing.
- A minimum number of supervised hours working in direct patient care with individuals who have diabetes (the requirement was 2000 hours when I became certified).
- Obtain a professional recommendation to apply for certification.
- Pass a rigorous national exam.
In order to stay certified, a CDE must demonstrate continued competence in the field of diabetes education every 5 years by either completing a minimum of 75 hours of continuing education specifically in the area of diabetes, or successfully completing a national exam. In addition, a minimum number of hours of direct patent education must be documented.
The role of the CDE is to educate, coach and guide you, so that you can handle your day-to-day diabetes care with confidence. A CDE may work with you on any of the following:
- Teach you how to check your blood sugar on a glucose monitor.
- Discuss with you what your target blood sugar range is.
- Help you with nutrition and meal planning for your unique lifestyle.
- Teach you how to give yourself insulin injections or use an insulin pump.
- Explain why diabetes complications happen and how to prevent them.
Even if you've had diabetes for years and received education when you were first diagnosed, it's still a good idea to meet with a CDE annually for a "tune up". Research shows that those who meet regularly with a CDE tend to stay on track and control their blood sugar better than those who don't.
A CDE has extensive knowledge on all aspects of diabetes care and will work with other members of your diabetes care team to provide the best care to you. When you work with a CDE, you can rest assured that you're working with a professional who is well qualified in the specialty practice of diabetes education.
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