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RN CDE: Should You Specialize in Diabetes Education?

Higher Education Articles October 23, 2013

Is Becoming an RN CDE Right for You?

If you are already a practicing LVN or RN and are considering certification in a specialty, you might want to explore the options for pursuing an RN CDE. Establishing yourself as a Certified Diabetes Educator today could open the door to added job security and stability in the future. According to the Center for Disease Control, the number of US citizens with diabetes climbed to 25.8 million in 2011.

With the sheer volume of current and potential diabetics, in the population, it stands to reason that an increase in the number of trained educators is a necessity to meet the escalating challenges of preventing and treating diabetes.

Managing both Type I and Type II diabetes requires dedication and commitment to maintaining proper nutritional intake along with medication for many adults. Parents of children with juvenile diabetes often feel overwhelmed when they receive the diagnosis and struggle to understand the nutritional, emotional and physical challenges of living a normal life with a blood sugar disorder.

As an RN CDE, a nurse is fully equipped to help those struggling parents, overwhelmed diabetics and other nurses caring for patients with diabetes. Choosing this specialty could involve routine patient care such as monitoring blood glucose, wound care and nutritional counseling for better health.

In addition, an RN CDE may devote his or her full-time career to teaching others about the development and progression of the disease and the effects on the endocrine system and emotion and physical impact the disease has on the whole person.

Possible Clinical Duties

•Educating patients about the prevent and treatment of diabetes
•Teaching self-care protocol to patients diagnosed with diabetes or their caregivers
•Providing instruction for using an insulin pump
•Teaching patients to self-inject insulin and other injectable medications
•Providing instruction for using glucose meters and other monitoring devices
•Supporting endocrinology departments and other medical teams
•Conducting group and individual training sessions
•Acting as an advocate for diabetes research and funding

Job Settings

•Stand-alone clinics
•Research Centers
•Pediatric Clinics
•Pharmaceutical Companies
•Biotech Organizations and Developers
•Community Outreach Programs

Jobs Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the jobs growth from 2010 to 2020 was expected to be significantly higher than the national average for Health Educators. Although there is no information dedicated to RN CDE workers specifically, health educators earned an average, median wage of $22.03 per hour in 2010.

With an expected growth rate of 37 percent, this sector offers an excellent jobs outlook for health educators across the board, including those with a specialty in diabetes education.

Employees typically offer higher salaries to health educators with a minimum of 2-5 years’ experience in their specialty field. To gain this experience, nurses may have to initially accept entry-level positions with endocrinologists or other providers as supporting staff.

However, as shortages grow, employers may adjust their requirements to include a focus on recommendations, GPA and testing scores and other factors that signify competencies.


Finding a specialty that fits your overall career objectives and life goals often involves identifying your passion. If you are passionate about improving the quality of life for your patients, becoming a certified diabetes educator may be a good fit for you.

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