Diabetes educators: Who are they and what do they do?imgres

Likely every type 1 child and their families have seen an educator: at the hospital, for insulin management, to start on a pump, or for school paperwork.  But what do you really know about your diabetes educator and what are their backgrounds?

The Definition

According to the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE):

A certified diabetes educator (CDE) is a healthcare professional for diabetes or people at risk for diabetes with behavioral goals to achieve better clinical outcomes.  So what exactly does that mean? The idea is an educator helps a child with diabetes (or family members, in the case of children) with eating habits, exercise habits, insulin dosing, sick day management, and basically the day-to-day activities for a child that affects blood sugars and A1c levels.  A diabetes educator’s background is varied.  He or she may have a background as a registered nurse, a nutritionist, a pharmacist, a physician, or a mental health professional, to name a few.  He or she must take a certification exam to become an educator.  The basis for their education revolves around what the AADE calls the 7 self-care behaviors:  healthy eating, being active, monitoring and taking medications, problem-solving, healthy coping, and reducing risks.

Who Pays to See a CDE

Typically a person with diabetes can see an educator more often than the endocrinologist; however, this is based on insurance coverage.  Insurance coverage for an educator will differ between plans (so check your insurance plan out).  Usually you need a referral from the endocrinologist.  After the referral is made you can typically see the educator more often than the endocrinologist depending on the reason for seeing the educator.

How do you use your educator in your community?  Is he or she helpful or is the endocrinologist you see more helpful?  Have you seen your educator lately?

Here is the link to the American Association of Diabetes Educators with a full-page on what an educator is:


What Exactly Does a Certified Diabetes Educator Do?

Last Night’s Phone Call and Other Dealings of a T1D Parent

Last night, around 10:30 pm, my cell phone rang.  I was actually holding the phone, about to power it down with 7% battery left, and a number I didn’t recognize popped up on the screen.  Who’s calling me at 10:30?  As a parent of a child with type 1 diabetes, you learn to just answer the phone.  And then came the words that sent my heart racing, “Hi Dayna, this is Michelle from diabetes camp.”


Now Hannah’s been going to camp for 6 years, a remote place in the mountains of Colorado, where cell phones don’t work, there is no contact with your child for a week, and THEY NEVER CALL.  That’s the beauty of diabetes camp – your child is surrounded by med staff and counselors and doctors and other adults with T1D.  By the time you “drop your kid off” you have filled out 20 forms three months ago, had your endocrinologist sign off that your kid can go, and filled out 10 more forms in the last week.  As you arrive, you shuttle from station to station: nurses station to check for fever, non-diabetes med station, pump settings station, CGM station, pump supply station… So you feel darned good about leaving your kid in capable hands.

Hannah was fine, Michelle assured me, but her insulin pump was not.  The funny thing was she kept telling me it had a “motor error” and I kept thinking she was saying it had a “murder error”.  Either way, the pump was dead, the $4,000 device that keeps my kid alive.  Michelle, as it turns out, not only has T1D herself, but is a rep for Medtronic, the pump’s manufacturer.  She happened to have a spare pump that Hannah can use for the next few days, and gave me instructions to call Medtronic and have a replacement overnighted.  I assumed she wanted me to call in the morning, but no, Medtronic has a 24-hour 800 number and it is manned by Very Helpful People.  Hannah’s replacement pump will arrive the day she gets back, and the best part…it’s under warranty.

I started thinking about how the phone takes on a whole different sense of urgency when you’re a T1D parent.  When Hannah was in elementary school, the nurse would call me at least 3 times a week when Hannah’s readings were either very high or very low.  For years, my cordless phone and my cell phone were always within reach: in the bathroom, in the garden, while I was vacuuming….and at the gym, my cell phone was at the base of my spin bike so I could see it when it lit up.

Then there was the phone call from the endocrinologist with the results of her yearly screening for Celiac’s disease.  We never had that follow-up call until it came back positive.  That was a rough day.

All in all, I am more than grateful that my daughter is surrounded by doctors, school nurses, pharmaceutical reps, certified diabetes educators, endos….so many people working to make sure her life is good and healthy and practically normal.  And I promise to always answer the phone.