What Exactly Is a Certified Diabetes Educator?
Tracey Lucier, RD, LDN, CDE
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Tracey Lucier got excellent news last year: She had passed a grueling four-hour exam to become a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE).
This was no small feat. Before taking the CDE test, you must have a suitable background as a health professional such as being a registered dietitian (like Lucier), a clinical exercise physiologist, or a registered nurse. To apply for the exam, you also must spend at least 1,000 hours actively engaged in diabetes self-management education, with a minimum of two years of professional experience, among other requirements.
“A CDE is someone with a passion for the world of diabetes,” says Jo-Anne Rizzotto, director of educational services for the Joslin Clinic. “Patients can be assured that this person has a solid knowledge of diabetes treatment and what it means for people with diabetes to stay well.”
In Lucier’s case, she was finishing up a dietetic internship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston four years ago when she was given a chance to observe Joslin’s DO IT (Diabetes Outpatient Intensive Treatment) program.
“That, among many other programs, sold me on Joslin,” she says. “I’ve loved that program ever since I first saw it. It’s four days long, which gives you an opportunity to really help people. It can be life-changing.”
Soon afterwards she started work at Joslin. “I had an extensive initial training period under guidance from my manager/mentor, Nora Saul,” Lucier says. “That was followed by in-depth skills training with Elizabeth Blair, N.P., another great Joslin mentor.”
“As a new educator, there is a steep learning curve,” she says. “There’s so much to understand in the world of diabetes. We are fortunate that we get skills/technology training on glucose meters, insulin injections, continuous glucose monitors, and insulin pumps.”
CDEs not only convey their knowledge about diabetes management, they help their patients apply that information every day. “That takes a bit of motivating for behavior change,” says Rizzotto, “and Tracey’s patients love her because she does help them with that.”
“As a Joslin CDE, you’re always learning,” Lucier says. “It could be from another provider or from a patient, but you’re always learning. My goal is to take that knowledge, sprinkle it with care and understanding, and help our patients to the best of my ability. I am grateful to my Joslin family for all I have learned and for all I have yet to learn.”