Certified Diabetes Educators

What to Expect During Your Visit With a Certified Diabetes Educator

Meeting diabetes specialist
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If you are at risk for Type 2 diabetes or have Type 2 diabetes, you can benefit from seeing a Certified Diabetes Educator (or “CDE”). CDE’s are trained professionals, such as registered dietitians, nurses, pharmacists, or social workers that have comprehensive knowledge and experience in diabetes self management therapy, pre-diabetes, and diabetes prevention. Today, there are about 18,000 Certified Diabetes Educators accredited by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators.

Physicians can refer you to meet with a CDE or you can request to meet with one. Diabetes can impact all aspects of a person’s life, and meeting with a CDE will help you to better understand how to manage your diabetes with more ease and certainty. Think of your CDE as your personal diabetes coach and motivator. CDE’s collaborate and communicate with physicians to help facilitate medication management, weight loss, meal and goal planning. Because the CDE specializes in diabetes, they have the time and knowledge to create individualized plans based on your goals and lifestyle. In certain situations, the CDE can act as your liaison to other health professionals.

CDE’s are trained to look at the individual from head to toe. Overtime, diabetes can affect the eyes, heart, kidneys and feet, therefore it’s important for your CDE to review your diabetes regular health check-ups with you. Although your CDE generally does not prescribe medications, your CDE is capable of teaching the timing and use of medications.

 They may even introduce you to some other medicines that fit your lifestyle better and suggest you discuss it with your physician. 

What you should you expect at your first visit? Each practitioner leads her sessions differently, but the majority of Certified Diabetes Educators will conduct sessions as follows: 

Gather information: The more information the CDE has the better assessment they can make. Gathering information takes time, but will benefit you. At the first visit, CDE’s will request medical information such as:

  • medication list
  • past medical history
  • history of your specialist visits
  • blood sugar log 
  • 24 hour dietary recall
  • blood pressure
  • height/weight/body mass index 

Basic Education: After background information is collected, basic education is provided. For example, in some of my initial visits, I may discuss several things with patients including the pathophysiology of diabetes, medications, blood glucose monitoring, basic diet and exercise as well A1C and lipid goals (link to know your numbers and TGs). Initial or baseline sessions are tailored to patient's needs. No two sessions are exactly the same because no two people are exactly the same. If you are someone with pre-diabetes vs. someone who has had diabetes for twenty years, your CDE is not going to conduct the same session.

Goal setting: At completion of your first visit, you and your CDE will likely have created some short term and long term goals. An example of a short term goal would be: “I am going to eat one serving of vegetables for breakfast everyday for the next week.” An example of a long term goal would be: “I will complete a 5k two months from now.” Short term and long term goals can help to keep you motivated and achieve your health goals.

Schedule a follow up: Before you leave, you should ask your CDE when they would like to see you again. Results are lasting when follow-up visits are made. Most insurances cover diabetes education up to several times per year. Contact your insurance company to see how many visits you are permitted and plan to follow-up with your CDE as often as necessary. CDE’s tend to be wonderful motivators. Sometimes all we need is someone to motivate us to get on track.

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