Studies show that 25 million Americans, more than 8% of the population, have diabetes. This has created a huge demand for diabetes management nurses. These health professionals have the special training needed to care for diabetics and to provide them with advice and information on matters of diet, exercise, and medicine.
Diabetes management nurses perform a variety of tasks, each with the same goals in mind: to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of diabetes and to educate patients on how to successfully manage their blood sugar levels.
Diabetics range widely in terms of their ages, occupations, personalities, temperaments, and attitudes towards their health needs. Many of them suffer from physical problems as a result of the disease. Because of this, diabetes management nurses must work with all types of people and potentially travel during their workdays to visit patients in their homes. They must also have good teamwork skills, as they frequently collaborate with physicians, dieticians, and others to promote their patient’s health.
Some of the duties of a diabetes management nurse include:
•Teaching patients how to test their own blood glucose levels.
•Advising diabetics on what foods are okay to eat and which ones to avoid.
•Administering insulin or other diabetes medications, in the event that the patient cannot do so for themselves.
•Working with the families of diabetics, teaching them how to support and encourage the person with the disease.
•Treating the complications caused by diabetes, which include: visual impairment, loss of circulation to extremities, and heart disease or stroke.
A diabetes management nurses’ workday often includes conducting training and education sessions with patients, either one-on-one or with the patient’s family members present. The nurse will explain what the disease is, how it progresses, what causes it, and what the patient and his or her loved ones can do to lessen its negative effects.
Diabetics are often unaccustomed to exercise or watching what they eat, so the nurse may also play the role of a coach as well as an educator, encouraging patients to take an active role in their treatment.
Many diabetics suffer from additional health issues, such as heart disease, emphysema, or the effects of a stroke. In addition, a number of them have mobility limitations, due to their age and/or physical challenges. Because of this, the average diabetes management nurse can expect to do some traveling during their workdays to reach these people. Depending on the location, such trips can range from less than a mile to lengthy drives to remote places.
Generally, diabetes management nurses work during regular daytime hours, and may have most weekends and holidays off. However, their duties might require them to arrive home during the late afternoon or early evening hours. They work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, private doctor’s offices, and for government or charitable institutions.
Pay scales for diabetes management nurses depends on a number of factors, such as their place of work, geographical location, amount of training, and length of time in the field. Nationally, compensation ranges from $50,000.000 to $75,000.00 or more. Nurses that travel may also receive a work vehicle and/or mileage reimbursement. Salaries are currently on an upward climb across the country and this trend will continue in the foreseeable future.
Diabetes management nurses are in short supply in most parts of the United States. This fact, along with the explosive growth rate of the disease, is expected to keep the demand for these health professionals high for at least the next decade. Graduates of nursing schools with the necessary training for the field will enjoy a wide range of career choices.
Requirements vary somewhat among locations, but in general, diabetes management nurses must first becomes registered nurses (RNs), then complete a series of specialized courses in diabetes care. More information is available from state and national nursing organizations.