Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists

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CDE and BC-ADM Exam Preparation

Jun 26, 2012

I work with a few people who just took the certified diabetes educator (CDE) examination.  The most common question I hear from people preparing to take the exam is “What do I study?”  In March, I took a similar type of exam for physical therapists (PTs) to become a Geriatric Clinical Specialist (GCS).  Similar to CDE and BC-ADM, it is a way to show that a person has achieved a certain level of competency/expertise in this practice area.  I taught a continuing education course to a group of PTs last weekend.  The big question: “What did you study for the test?”  Similar to the CDE and BC-ADM, there is not a particular text or resource, which if learned, will assure a person passes the exam.  I guess that is part of a clinical specialty exam.  We have to learn from clinical activities!

However, there are resources that help.  I can speak to the CDE exam and hope you will help, too.  I cannot speak for the BC-ADM since I do not qualify (as a physical therapist/exercise physiologist, in spite of advanced degrees….hmmm).  If you recently took the CDE or BC-ADM, your colleagues would love to get your input here.  What did you find helpful?

For the CDE exam, if you learn by attending courses, you might consider AADE’s CORE Concepts course.  You can also now take the course online.  I took the equivalent before I sat for my first CDE exam and found it to be extremely helpful.

I also read and learned as much as I could from the former equivalent to AADE’s The Desk Reference.  A few of us in the office took the exam together so we set up a schedule, met at lunch, and reviewed chapters and questions.  This was incredibly helpful.  I did the same thing with a PT friend to prepare for the GCS.  It was invaluable!  If you can, I would highly recommend doing this.  Think about using your local networking group (LNG) or coordinating body (CB) connections to get a group; even if you live a distance and meet once a month or use Skype.  It really kept me on track and made studying much more fun.  (Did I really say it was fun?  Yes!  And, we both passed.)

The other thing I found helpful to prepare for taking the GCS was a Board-preparation book/DVD for new graduate PTs.  We sat at the computer a couple of evenings with one.  We got most questions wrong initially.  We needed to get used to taking an exam from a computer screen AND to slow down and read the questions and answers!  By the end, we got most answers correct.  During the exam, I realized how important this last-minute activity was.  Consider borrowing the equivalent for your profession from a new graduate.

What did you find helpful for the CDE or BC-ADM exam?  Your diabetes educator colleagues would love to know.


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  1. Oct 02, 2012

    Thanks-I am getting ready to sit for the BC-ADM-
  2. Jun 28, 2012

    How can I get a copy of Jean Rifkin's guide?
  3. Jun 28, 2012

    Getting prepared to take both CDE AND BC-ADM Seem daunting to review , i am reviewing ada guidelines, will be looking at ada core curric. and will be doing either online or course reviewing 2012 guidelines and some courses on ada website in the professional section for education if there are any groups to get connected with for joint study that you would be aware of would be great to know or any other suggestions
  4. Jun 27, 2012

    For the CDE, I found it helpful to take a review course and then followed it up with taking TONS of practice questions! For me, it really focused on where my deficits where and I could committ more time to those areas for review.
  5. Jun 27, 2012

    Just took and passed the CDE with a 96! This is my 20th year as a CDE , and the 5th time I've successfully passed the CDE exam. This time and last, I used Jean Rifkin's study guide and it's extremely helpful. I like the format, challenge and it's very portable. A great value as well with the 60 ceus. I have also studied with the Art and Science book, and do read all the Diabetes Educator journals. Needless to say, studying should be continuous but I do like taking the exams vs continuing education as this really does help sharpen the skills.
  6. Jun 26, 2012

    Karen, I agree there is strength in numbers. If you are studying with a group of people and have a schedule for studing the materials it can be very helpful. Studying with colleagues helps discuss and clarify clinical points and questions. It is also more helpful to have a schedule and study partners to keep you focused and on the time line. As part of a CMS contract, I have facilatated CDE exam study sessions here in the I-35 corridor of Texas for candidates that applied for the past two study sessions. The evaluation comments indicated most candidates 1) enjoyed studying with others, 2) being able to network with others and 3) having a schedule helped keep the studying on track and covering the subject matter do-able. I am still complying the results from this current testing period, however the majority of those that passed the exam so far participated at least 80% in the study sessions (7). Those missing by a few points were not able to get to the study groups due to the travel distance. If our non-profit is able to facilatate more CDE exam study sessions, we are considering a live stream to help those in rural areas. We also encouraged taking the pretest exam to adjust to how the computer testing format worked. I also agree this would be a great project for the LNG's to work on. Not only would the LNG members share their knowledge and help future colleagues but this outreach can also help build membership in the LNG's.

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