What does a Certified Diabetes Educator do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 27 September 2019
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A certified diabetes educator is an allied health care professional who works with diabetic patients and people at risk of developing diabetes to manage their health. Standards for certification vary, depending on the region. People usually hold at least an undergraduate degree in biology or a related field. Physician assistants, nurses, licensed psychologists, and medical doctors can all pursue certification to work as diabetes educators.

When a person is referred to a certified diabetes educator, the patient's chart is reviewed to get an overview of the case, and the educator will arrange a meeting to talk directly with the patient about health concerns. If a patient's diabetes is poorly controlled, the certified diabetes educator identifies reasons for this and works with the patient on creating a plan to manage the diabetes. This can include making adjustments to make it easier for the patient to adhere to the plan. Sometimes this is as simple as buying a different glucose monitor that the patient can read more easily.


If someone is at risk of diabetes, the certified diabetes educator develops a diet and exercise plan for bringing the blood sugar down and maintaining it. Reaching out to people in at-risk populations can also be a part of the job. Diabetes educators may do presentations in nutrition classes held for school children, as well as people in continuing education programs, with the goal of teaching people to take preventative steps before they are in danger of developing diabetes.

This work can involve regular follow up appointments with patients, including visits to homes. The certified diabetes educator can also cooperate with other care providers on addressing health issues. If a patient's mobility is limited, for instance, exercise plans must be adjusted to create a plan that will not endanger the patient. The diabetes educator may also make referrals to people like physical therapists and other health professionals who can address complications of diabetes.

Health educators must keep up with the latest research and information in the field. Subscribing to trade journals is usually advisable and many belong to professional organizations so they can attend conferences and network with people who have similar interests. The work requires good people skills, strong organizational abilities, and an interest in helping patients take control of their health. It can also require creativity when it comes to communicating clearly with patients and helping patients identify and address risk factors in their lives.



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