Diabetes Nurse Educator
Nurses can specialize in different ways, and one way is to specialize by specific health issues or conditions. Diabetes nurses are registered nurses who specialize in caring for patients with all types of diabetes and help them manage their health. Like other registered nurses, they also provide routine examinations, monitor a patient’s condition, record a patient’s medical history and vitals, and administer medication or explain treatment. As part of their specialty, they teach patients with diabetes how to manage their condition, such as by educating them on nutrition, or demonstrating how to test their own blood sugar and how to administer their own insulin. Many diabetes nurses focus specifically on diabetes education, and are referred to as diabetes nurse educators. Diabetes nurses usually work in hospitals or in clinics, often with an endocrinology practice.
How do you become a Diabetes Nurse Educator? If you choose to pursue this specialty, you will need to first become a licensed nurse in your state, which involves earning a nursing degree and then passing your states NCLEX exam (National Council Licensure Examination), which is given by the state’s board of nursing. You can earn your nursing degree by obtaining an associate degree in nursing (ASN) in two to three years from a vocational or community college, or earning your four-year bachelor’s degree in nursing. Once you have your degree, you can get some needed nursing experience, or pursue graduate education, one of which is needed to pursue your diabetes nursing certification.
Becoming a certified diabetes nurse specialist is an important next step that will optimize your career growth and potential salary. Certification is not legally required the way your nursing license is, but there are many advantages to pursuing it, including more job opportunities, respect on the job, capability and knowledge, as well as a higher salary. Certification is provided by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators. According to the NCDBE, you will need to be a registered nurse with a minimum of two years of nursing experience, in addition to a minimum of 1000 hours of diabetes self-management education experience, as well as fifteen hours of continuing education in diabetes nursing. These requirements are extensive, so education is important, but they will pay off in expertise, salary, and job security.
Why go into Diabetes Nursing? Nursing in general is one of the most rapidly growing professions according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as the healthcare workforce struggles to meet the demands of the growing aging population. Specialist nurses with advanced training will in particular be in demand. The average salary for a diabetes nurse educator is $64,980, according to salary.com. This will vary, based on location, experience, and place of employment, and will of course rise if you earn an advanced nursing degree with a focus on diabetes nursing. With diabetes rates increasing in the United States, diabetes nursing will continue to be in high demand. According to the American Diabetes Association, 23.6 million Americans have diabetes, which is 7.8% of the population, and there are 1.6 million new cases in adults every year. This can be a great life-long job for you if you are a nurse or hope to be one, and desire to help people battle this disease and manage it to increase their quality of life.
Check out this Interview with Gaynal Hofmeister, RN, CDE, who sheds some light on becoming a nurse and her career path to become a Diabetes Educator: Interview With A Diabetes Nurse Educator
Use this resource to find the appropriate nursing program based on your current education level:
(Sources: Johns Hopkins Alerts: Meet the Diabetes Nurse Educator, National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators)