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2 Healthcare Professionals You Should Meet: Certified Diabetes Educator and Registered Dietitian.

2 Healthcare Professionals You Should Meet: Certified Diabetes Educator and Registered Dietitian

It is common to feel a mix of emotions after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, one of which may be a feeling of being lost and uncertain where to start.

Meeting with a certified diabetes educator (CDE) and a registered dietitian (RD) can help ease you into your new (hopefully healthier) lifestyle by providing you and your loved ones with invaluable education.

Diabetes self-management education will provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully take on daily diabetes self-care.1,2 This education should be provided by a CDE. A CDE is commonly a registered nurse (RN) or RD.

The Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes-2018 recommend the following:

  • “…… all people with diabetes should participate in diabetes self-management education to facilitate the knowledge, skills, and ability necessary for diabetes self-care and in diabetes self-management support to assist with implementing and sustaining skills and behaviors needed for ongoing self-management.”2
  • “All individuals with diabetes should be offered a referral for individualized MNT*, preferably provided by a registered dietitian who is knowledgeable and skilled in providing diabetes-specific MNT.” 2

*MNT – medical nutrition therapy

What is a certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian?

Certified Diabetes Educator

A CDE is a health care professional that has extensive knowledge in diabetes prevention and diabetes management. A CDE provides ongoing education and support to individuals with diabetes throughout their lifespan.1,2,3 Certified diabetes educators provide a wide range of education that may include:

  • Understanding the medication prescribed by your physician, including insulin use and proper injection technique
  • How to use diabetes devices (i.e. blood glucose meter, insulin pump, etc.)
  • Assisting with pattern management (adjusting medication based on your glucose logs)
  • Understanding nutrition and diabetes
  • Understanding how exercise impacts your health and diabetes management
  • Tips for healthy coping
  • Connecting you with community resources and support groups

To become a CDE, a qualified health-care professional must pass a nationally recognized exam that encompasses all aspects of diabetes care. Once the examination is successfully passed the CDE must obtain a certain amount of continuing education every 5 years or retake the certification exam to maintain the CDE credential.3

Registered Dietitian

A registered dietitian is a health care professional with expertise in food, nutrition, and medical nutrition therapy. To become a registered dietitian specific academic and professional requirements must be met, some of which include:4

  • A bachelor’s degree in dietetics from an accredited college or university
  • Complete of an internship program that includes clinical, community, and food service experience
  • Pass a nationally recognized exam
  • Complete the ongoing professional continuing education4

Registered dietitians may also specialize in diabetes and eventually become certified diabetes educators. Registered dietitians may help in the following ways:

  • Assess current diet for nutritional adequacy
  • Develop meal plans that target specific goals (i.e. improve nutrient balance, assist with weight loss, manage a chronic disease, avoid specific food allergens and/or food intolerances, etc.)
  • Assist with developing a grocery list
  • Provide medical nutrition therapy. Medical Nutrition Therapy “Is an evidence-based medical approach to treating certain chronic conditions (i.e. diabetes) through the use of an individually-tailored nutrition plan.” 5

Insurance coverage for diabetes education and nutrition education

  • Commercial insurance: It is best to contact your insurer directly for additional information.
  • Government Insurance: Medicare Part B covers diabetes self-management training and nutrition therapy services for individuals that meet qualification criteria. To receive diabetes self-management training, you must have a written order for your physician and be at risk for diabetes related complications.6 Medicare may cover up to 10 hours of initial diabetes self-management training/education.6 Click here for additional information.
  • To receive medical nutrition therapy services, you must have a written order from your physician and have one of the following conditions: diabetes, kidney disease, or a kidney transplant in the last 36 months.7 Click here for additional information.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Powers M, Bardsley J, et al. Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support in Type 2 Diabetes. The Diabetes Educator. June 2015. DOI: 10.1177/0145721715588904.
  2. American Diabetes Association. Lifestyle Management: Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2018. Diabetes Care. 2018; 41(Supplement 1): S38-S50.
  3. Welcome to the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators. NCBDE website. Accessed May 13, 2018.
  4. Kohn J. Qualifications of a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. November 30, 2017. Accessed May 13, 2018.
  5. What is Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT)? Dietitians at Home. Accessed May 13, 2018.
  6. Your Medicare Coverage. Accessed May 13, 2018.
  7. Your Medicare Coverage. Accessed May 13, 2018.