Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists


Practice Resources

From Diabetes Educator to Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

As healthcare has evolved, the term diabetes educator has not grown with the specialty to reflect all that they do for people with diabetes, prediabetes and cardiometabolic conditions. That’s why ADCES went on a multi-year search to determine what words best describes the specialty, its impact and opportunities. The new term diabetes care and education specialist will better present the value of the specialty in order to expand diabetes education services to those who can benefit most from them for the prevention and management of diabetes. To learn more about the journey to a new specialty title and association name, visit

Optimal Care, Improved Outcomes

More than 100 million Americans are affected by diabetes or prediabetes, and that number is only expected to grow. Whether it’s type 1, type 2, gestational, LADA or other cardiometabolic conditions, daily management is needed to reduce complications, support emotional and mental health, and live a life that is not defined by the disease. That’s where diabetes care and education specialists can help.

Diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) is delivered by diabetes care and education specialists. Collaboratively, they work with a person who has diabetes to create a plan of care that is personalized to an individual’s lifestyle, culture, beliefs and environment. Sessions cover everything from understanding how to use devices like meters, insulin pens, pumps and continuous glucose monitors, to interpreting data from these devices to identify patterns and areas of concern.  Together, they work to find solutions that address their most pressing challenges. 

As the central point of the diabetes care team, diabetes care and education specialists are uniquely positioned to:

  • Reduce readmissions and encourage long-term self-management
  • Lower costs for your health system, the provider and most importantly the person with diabetes
  • Improve quality measures, outcomes and health at an individual and population level
  • Improve productivity and performance for your practice, health system or health plan

Refer to a Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

To qualify for DSMES, an individual must have documentation of being diagnosed with diabetes and a written referral by the provider who is treating them for their diabetes. Diagnosis criteria must meet either a fasting blood glucose ≥126 mg/dl on two separate occasions, a 2-hour post-glucose challenge of ≥200 mg/dl on two separate occasions, or a random glucose test of >200 mg/dl with symptoms of unmanaged diabetes. Providers should ensure the individual understands their diagnosis, next steps and make sure they can access the DSMES program. Insurance coverage status for DSMES should be verified to ensure a smooth transition into the service.  

When referring, it is critical that people with diabetes take advantage of DSMES services at diagnosis to build a strong foundation of healthy habits and reduce the risk of dangerous hypoglycemic events. Additionally, Medicare and many private insurers cover 10 hours of DSMES services in the first year after diagnosis.

Access step-by-step instructions on how to refer including referral forms and background information at the link below. 

Employer Guide 

For more on the benefits of working with a diabetes care and education specialist, access this employer

Employer Guide
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