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Educating and Advocating for Certified Diabetes Educators with ACDE

Insight from Academy Board President Christine Day

Laura Kolodjeski of Sanofi US DiabetesLaura Kolodjeski

As part of their healthcare team, some people living with diabetes turn to a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE*) for information and guidance. But who educates the educator? The Academy of Certified Diabetes Educators offers a variety of resources. I recently talked with Academy Board President Christine Day, RN, MS, BC-CNS, CDE, to get some insight into the newly formed organization.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your background as a CDE and what’s most meaningful to you about your work?

Christine Day
Christine Day

A: I’ve been in diabetes care since 1985, and a CDE since 1987. I worked in a family medicine residency and started one of the first American Diabetes Association Recognized Education Programs in a residency program. My real interest is in promoting diabetes management in primary care, though it’s a real passion for me to promote the CDE in a variety of settings.

I find what’s most rewarding about my work is the connections with people and the long-term relationships that I can develop with someone over a long period of time. I also like working with a variety of ages and people living with type 1 and type 2. Some of the new technology that’s emerging is really exciting. There’s been an explosion of information. I think being a CDE and maintaining that certification just keeps you in touch with the changing diabetes climate. Over time, I’ve learned that the person with diabetes is really the key player. I always tell people that if I do my job right, I’m your support team. Your care provider and your CDE are there to support your management of your diabetes.

Q: I’ve heard that the Academy of Certified Diabetes Educators launched recently. Why and how has it come together?

A: We’ve actually been working on this for a couple of years now. There are more than 18,000 CDEs in the U.S., and yet according to a survey we did of our membership, we found that a very small number were involved with a professional organization. We asked why? We felt that there is good collaboration and mentorship, if we can all work together. We’ve noticed that a lot of the organizations that CDEs work for have cut back on some of the resources they give their CDEs. A lot of our members said they had to maximize their continuing education costs, and they just didn’t have the money necessarily to do so in a professional group, or there wasn’t access to a professional group locally in the area where they reside.

I had been on the Board of Directors of the credentialing organization National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE), and in talking with other board members and some other folks, we felt that there was a strong need to support the CDE. It came out of a real interest to advocate for and promote the CDE. We wondered how we could set up a mechanism to support CDEs more comprehensively. Also, we saw that our national voice needs to be strengthened. A lot of diabetes legislation is being proposed and we want to be a part of that discussion.

We launched the Academy in January 2014 and decided that we’d initially offer all CDEs free membership in the Academy for the first two years. Anyone who is a CDE is automatically a member. All they have to do is go to the site, register and they’ll be a part of the organization.

Q: How would you describe the Academy’s core mission and goals?

A: Our core mission is to support, advocate for and empower CDEs, both locally and nationally with legislation. We’re looking to focus on their needs for continuing education, networking and career development. We also want to advance the Certified Diabetes Educator as being the gold standard for diabetes education. We feel that one of the important things is to educate consumers that working with a CDE may help make a difference. We also are aware that we need to increase access to diabetes education, so we want to look at how we can help maximize diabetes services.

We really feel that with the rising number of people living with diabetes, we need more than 18,000 Certified Diabetes Educators, in more locations. It’s really interesting to me that so many medical and nursing students I talk with aren’t aware that they can become a CDE. So we want to get the word out that this is a great opportunity to work with people, and the steps you can put in place to eventually become a CDE.

Q: What are some ways you think the organization will benefit the diabetes community?

A: I think ultimately by supporting CDEs and advocating for more CDEs, patients may have increased access to education and a better educated diabetes educator.

We have also talked about how to potentially include consumers in the Academy. We feel that having a consumer member on our board would be really helpful, someone who is well connected to the diabetes community and can let us know the unique needs of the consumer. Right now, we’re just in the discussion stages and looking at some possibilities.

Q: What are some of the services that the Academy offers now?

A: The beauty of our Academy is that we offer no or low cost resources for the person in the trenches working as a CDE. We offer the opportunity for networking on the website through message boards and the blog. Folks can log in and either go into their particular specialty community, such as advanced practice nurse, clinical psychologist or dietitian, or a more general discussion, and ask questions. People have been so excited that if they have a question, they can share that through the site and get a very quick response. We want to be a very nimble organization that’s able to meet the needs of our membership.

We also have professional updates, which allow people to look at, say, new nutrition guidelines. We have opportunities for professional and continuing education. We have links on our site to other organizations, and articles that may be of help to CDEs, as well as sample diabetes education job descriptions and protocols. Then the career center is one of the things I’m most excited about. We have a number of people that want to post CDE jobs on the site. There are places that would love to have a CDE on staff. We are looking at how we can connect those people; I think that would be really helpful.

Q: What’s ahead for the Academy?

A: I think in the future, we just want to offer more opportunities on the site. We want to have some live webinars, as well as access to pre-delivered webinars, that will offer continuing education credit. We want to offer those at either no charge or low cost, because we’re finding that people are really having difficulty with securing the resources to pay for those types of services. We hope to grow the calendar of events, so people can see locally where they might get more education. We hope in the future to maybe have some in-person meetings. Additionally, we’re looking at like-minded organizations that we can partner with. We really feel that the strength of the Academy will be in collaboration.

I commend Christine’s commitment to providing resources to other educators and ultimately helping improve the lives of those living with diabetes. Her dedication to her work was obvious in our conversation. I appreciate her time to offer insight into the new organization.

All the best,

Laura K.

Disclosures: Christine Day received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.

*“Certified Diabetes Educator” and “CDE” are certification marks owned and registered by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE). NCBDE is not affiliated in any way with Sanofi US. NCBDE does not sponsor or endorse any diabetes-related products or services.

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