Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists

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Education & CE Opportunities

Guidance for Becoming a Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

Diabetes care and education specialists provide collaborative, comprehensive, and person-centered care and education to people with diabetes and cardiometabolic conditions. They have achieved a core body of knowledge and skills in the biological and social sciences, communication, counseling, and education and who have experience in the care of people with diabetes and related conditions.

How do I become a diabetes care and education specialist?

This is a question we frequently get. It is a challenging one to answer because there is no universal route to becoming a diabetes care and education specialist (DCES), formerly known as a diabetes educator.

Members of this specialty encompass a diverse set of health disciplines, including nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, physicians, mental health professionals, podiatrists, optometrists, exercise physiologists, and others. At some point in their career, they choose to specialize in diabetes education.

Talk with any diabetes care and education specialist and they will tell you it was their calling and they could not think of doing anything else, professionally.

"I was interested in diabetes from the time I was a young girl, due to my grandmother having diabetes. Then in college, I had a good friend with Type 1 diabetes who was involved in a fatal car accident due to hypoglycemia. As I started my career in nursing, I knew that I wanted to help make a difference in the lives of people with diabetes. I have stayed in diabetes care and education for almost my entire career for that same reason and also because it has been so exciting to see the diabetes management treatments and tools advance so dramatically over the years."
- Patty Scalzo, MSN, NP, RN, CDCES

"I landed in diabetes education by accident. The first job happened to be at a diabetes center. I became a pump specialist and was part of a team doing research with the implantable insulin pump. I loved diabetes care because there are so many different things you can do in the field and so many people who need help. I worked for industry for a few years and ran a DSMES program after that role. I loved the technology training aspect of it too. And working in chronic disease allowed me to form long term relationships with my clients and see them changing and flourishing over time. I was not made for acute care!" 
- Jodi Lavin-Tompkins, MSN, RN, BC-ADM, CDCES

Diabetes Education-Specific Credentials

While not always feasible for all practitioners, ADCES recommends all diabetes care and education specialists pursue specialty certifications, such as the Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES), previously referred to as Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), and/or become Board Certified-Advanced Diabetes Management (BC-ADM). Learn more about these credentials and their requirements.

Currently there are no bachelor’s degree programs for diabetes education yet there is a graduate program – Master of Science degree in Diabetes Education and Management – at Teachers College-Columbia University. The university also offers a graduate-level certificate program in Advanced Diabetes Topics.

Practice Settings 

Diabetes care and education specialists work in a variety of settings: hospitals, physician offices, clinics, home health, wellness programs, public health, to name a few.

They most often work within accredited or recognized diabetes education programs. Learn more about ADCES’ Diabetes Education Accreditation Program. This means that the diabetes care and education program has met requirements set forth by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and can bill for diabetes self-management training through two different billing codes: G0108 and G0109, which are for individual and group diabetes care and education.


Core Competencies for the DCES

In 2020, ADCES identified the knowledge, skills and abilities diabetes care and education specialists need to be effective in today’s dynamic healthcare environment. They fall into five domains. Learn more about each domain and download a sample job description.

Competencies Chart

ADCES: Your Community for Education, Networking and Resources

ACDES is the only organization solely dedicated to the diabetes care and education specialist. We offer continuing education to help you gain the knowledge and skills to be a DCES and maintain your licensure and credentials. 

CDCES Exam Prep Guidance

Core Concepts® Course
Covers the essentials of diabetes education through case studies, interactive discussions and hands-on learning activities. Course is offered in-person (23 CE) and online (30 CE). Note: This course will only be offered online in 2020.

Review Guide for the CDE Exam
The ultimate test prep, it includes strategies for preparing for and taking the exam, 480 multiple choice questions with answers/rationale, and two practice exams. Bundle it with the Art & Science of Diabetes Care and Education desk reference.

BC-ADM Exam Prep Guidance

Online Self-Assessment
Covers 4 key domain areas: Assessment and diagnosis; planning and intervention, evaluation and follow-up, and leadership and advanced professional practice. Includes 70-multiple choice questions, with instant feedback.


Advice on how to become a diabetes care and education specialist

“Find a mentor!!  I had the most wonderful mentor who got me started on my way to becoming a CDCES.  She walked with me along the way on my journey of getting my clinical hours in and was a cheerleader to me when I took that very difficult exam the first time. Without her influence and guidance I am not sure I would have persevered.”

"Find someone to shadow to see if it is really something you would enjoy. Maybe do some volunteering to help you with your hours and have something to put on your resume. Start going to ADCES meetings and networking.  Get involved with ADA or JDRF chapters and advocacy.  Look into public health settings; many of them provide on the job training , as do some diabetes centers.  Also do your homework and complete didactic work-start with the ADCES our Art and Science of Diabetes Care and Education desk reference."

 
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