By Heather Beaudry, RN, CDCES
I became a registered nurse (RN) at 23 years old and a certified diabetes care and education specialists (CDCES) at the age of 28. I’m writing this post today to explain my journey and career path that led me to this point. While sitting in the classroom obtaining my associate degree in nursing, I remember learning about diabetes and the different career paths available for nurses. I heard of certified diabetes educators (the former credential for CDCES) at the time and thought it might be an overwhelming and unrewarding position to take on. I know now that if you want the inside story of what it is like to be a CDCES, you should probably hear it from CDCES themselves.
What lead up to this path?
From a young age, I enjoyed helping others and knew my profession of choice would drive me in that direction. My career as a nurse started as a licensed nursing assistance, which continued to becoming a licensed practical nurse, and eventually an RN. Early in my nursing career, I worked in a few different settings (nursing home, home health and triage/clinic nursing). However, I could tell from the beginning of my clinic nursing career that I had found my niche. Being a nurse in the primary care setting isn’t for everyone but being a part of a patient’s primary care team is enlightening, influential, and in the best way possible, never ending. To me, this means there will always be several different avenues where you can help guide patients throughout their lifespan. How incredible is that?!
What was my journey like?
After working in the clinic setting for about 3 years, an opportunity arose to enter a mentorship program through the Certification Board of Diabetes Care and Education (CBDCE) to become a CDCES. I was accepted into the program and was very fortunate to have a wonderful mentor named Lucy Gordon, RN, CDCES, that taught me what this profession is all about. In August 2020, I successfully passed the examination to become a CDCES. However, at the same time, another responsibility of mine was to develop a diabetes self-management education and support program within my current place of employment. I’m very pleased to report that with the guidance, support and encouragement of our Chief Operating Officer at the time (Patty Couture, RN), we successfully created a program that obtained accreditation from the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists on August 31, 2020.
What am I doing now?
My current position involves being an RN and CDCES, as well as the quality and program coordinator of the diabetes self-management education and support program at Coos County Family Health Services in Berlin, NH. Honestly, I enjoyed my journey to becoming a CDCES so much that it inspired me to continue my education further. I am currently in an RN-MSN Family Nurse Practitioner Program through Rivier University with goals to obtain an additional certification in the future, specifically a board certification in advanced diabetes management.
Any words of wisdom for other nurses?
My words of advice to you would be, if you enjoy helping others who suffer from chronic disease and educating them on realistic ways to improve their overall health and clinical outcomes, I would urge you to explore the career choice of a CDCES. Diabetes and the education provided on this subject has evolved over the last several years and may not involve the same curriculum that was taught years ago. A CDCES working in an accredited program focuses on individualization, support, goal setting, behavioral goals and so much more. If you feel your organization would benefit from this, speak with your employer and see if they would support this initiative. If you feel like this is an avenue you want to embark on, consider checking out the ADCES website (DiabetesEducator.org) and the CBDCE website (cbdce.org). If you’re still in your studies, you may also wish to join ADCES as a student member. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, do not hesitate to reach out to a CDCES to see what they love most about their career.
ADCES Perspectives on Diabetes Care
The Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists Perspectives on Diabetes Care covers diabetes, prediabetes and other cardiometabolic conditions. Not all views expressed reflect the official position of the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists.
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HEALTHCARE DISCLAIMER: This site and its services do not constitute the practice of medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always talk to your diabetes care and education specialist or healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment, including your specific medical needs. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or condition, please contact a qualified health care professional immediately. To find a diabetes care and education specialist near you, visit DiabetesEducator.org/Find.