What are the Different Diabetes Educator Jobs?

Terrie Brockmann

One of the trends in global health is the rise in the number of people diagnosed with diabetes. Internationally, this trend has increased not only the need for diabetes educators, but created a rise in the diversity of diabetes educator jobs. Certified diabetes educators specialize in educating diabetic people on how to manage their disorder. In this medical field, there are a multitude of specialties that give a diabetes educator a chance to practice in a desired field. A diabetes educator job may range from a certified diabetes educator instructor to a diabetes educator who is also a nutritionist.

Certified diabetes educators help people diagnosed with diabetes learn how to self-manage their care.
Certified diabetes educators help people diagnosed with diabetes learn how to self-manage their care.

The job of diabetes educators is continuously evolving. As researchers and businesses make developments in diagnosis, treatment, and technology, it changes the range of responsibilities for certified diabetes educators. Not only is the scope of the job changing, but the world is needing more educators. In the U.S. alone, the United States Department of Health and Human Services' Healthy People 2010 program has an objective that at least 60 percent of diabetics should receive formal diabetes education.

Some large medical centers and hospitals may have several professional staff members trained in diabetes education.
Some large medical centers and hospitals may have several professional staff members trained in diabetes education.

Typically, diabetes educators teach diabetes self-management skills. Certified diabetes educators may also be dietitians, nurses, or other qualified professionals because the criteria for the certification requires an applicant to be a health care professional, dietitian, or social worker. The National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE) establishes the standards and administers the test. State regulations and the employing agencies determine the job descriptions and functions for diabetes educator jobs. Certified diabetes educators may work at health clinics, medical centers, and companies that provide their customers with diabetes education.

Generally, many organizations use a team approach to helping diabetics; therefore, many types of diabetes educator jobs require the educator to serve as the team leader and team educator. As such, the certified diabetes educator usually plays a significant role in developing policies to facilitate the administration of these tasks.

Diabetes educators within large organizations usually have a professional support staff to support them. Typically, this applies to those employed by large medical corporations, such as multi-facility medical centers or hospitals. At the other end of the spectrum, many certified diabetes educators do not have additional staff to assist them because their employer is not a large enough. Often people holding these positions have duplicate degrees and do multiple jobs. Sometimes educators hold the title of clinical diabetes educators or diabetes nurse educators.

Many diabetes educators are dietitians, and the diabetes education portion is a small percentage of their job. However, others may spend the largest portion of their jobs as educators, such as diabetes educators in large companies that have full-time dietitians. In other cases, the educators may have a dual degree in nursing, pharmaceuticals, or podiatry, and diabetes education is a small portion of their profession.

Many places hire a diabetes program coordinator for teaching diabetes self-management and implementing a training program for other staff. Often people in these jobs need to travel to perform their duties. The field-based diabetes educator jobs generally exist to educate primary care providers, specialists, and other medical staff on how to better manage people with diabetes. Some of these educators work for large pharmaceutical companies to promote the company's products, and within the company, they work with the sales department, marketing department, and the company's legal personnel.

Pediatric diabetes educators work both in an outpatient practice and for hospitalized pediatric patients. Children respond well to animated educators who have the talent of making the information relevant to their young lives. Many pediatric diabetes educators find that working with children in an overnight or residential camp facility is rewarding. One of the diabetes educator jobs may be to set up the camp program as well as counsel the young campers and the camp staff.

For people who like variety, some of the more interesting diabetes educator jobs are the specialty jobs. Many places try to hire educators who are bilingual so that they may communicate efficiently with their patients. Other times, certified diabetes educators may work on cruise ships, exotic islands, or other places that tourists may need support in caring for their disease. Some educators feel passionate enough about diabetes educator jobs that they get their teaching degrees and become instructors for certified diabetes educators.

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