Your Diabetes Educator – Personal Help

Studies reveal than over fifty percent of people with type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes have had little or no diabetes education. This statistic is astounding in light of the fact that diabetes education and self-management techniques can greatly increase a person’s chances of successfully living with the disease.

What is Diabetes Education?

Diabetes education is an essential component of diabetes care. It gives anyone who has diabetes and the people at risk for the disease the information and skills to manage their disease, modify their lifestyles, and be more aware of the signs and symptoms of diabetes.

Self-management techniques for diabetics help patients with their overall health. They also address specific areas of concern for diabetics such as coronary artery disease, diseases and wounds in the limbs and feet, renal disease, and vision issues. Diabetes education can lower health costs and improve the patient’s quality of life.

The Certified diabetes Instructor

A certified diabetes instructor has specialized training in the care and education of diabetic patients. An instructor can be a doctor, a dietician, a registered nurse, a pharmacist, or other medical professional.[1]

Diabetes instructors work in a variety of settings. Instructors can be found in hospitals, doctor’s offices, pharmacies, home health care settings, nursing homes, community settings, and other arenas that offer health care.

In addition to their core professional training, the diabetes instructor must complete the following:[2]

  • Two years of supervised professional practice involving diabetes education
  • One-thousand hours providing services as a diabetes educator
  • Employment in a health care environment providing services to diabetics
  • Work thirty-two hours per week as a diabetic educator
  • Pass certification exams
  • Maintain certification through continuing education

A diabetes educator focuses on a variety of roles. He or she will work with the diabetic patient on a clinical level, an emotional or psychological level, and an educational level. In addition, the diabetes educator will offer continuing support as the diabetic patient makes lifestyle changes and experiences successes and setbacks.

The Diabetic Educator and You

If you have been diagnosed with type1, type 2, or gestational diabetes, your diabetes educator will play a key role in your self-management plan. Even if you are at-risk for the disease, a diabetes educator can help you make the necessary lifestyle changes to avoid worsening problems.

The goals of your diabetic educator are threefold:

  • To help you learn more about your disease
  • To give you the skills to manage your diabetes
  • To aid you in making positive lifestyle changes that will improve your diabetes and overall health

Glycemic Control and Insulin

One area of major concern for diabetics is glycemic control. Your diabetes educator will instruct you in the importance of controlling your blood glucose levels using the glycemic index. You will learn how foods are rated on the glycemic index and what to consider when planning your meals.

The glycemic index is a number assigned to food based on its likelihood to raise blood glucose levels. A certain food may be rated as having a high glycemic index, a low glycemic index, or a medium glycemic index. The index takes into account a food’s carbohydrates, fats, and fiber.

The glycemic index can be confusing to patients who do not understand how to calculate food values. However, patients who have training in using the glycemic index from a diabetic educator can sometimes reduce their dependence on medications and vastly improve their overall health. The goal is to focus on low glycemic index foods to keep blood sugar levels at a steady level.[3]

Another area of focus for the diabetes instructor is insulin use. If you are a type 1 diabetic you will want to discuss insulin use with your instructor. He or she will help you adapt your insulin use based on your activities and your lifestyle.

If you are a type 2 diabetic your instructor will keep an eye on your disease and closely monitor the need for any medication. At times, a person with type 2 diabetes must begin an insulin regimen. With close monitoring, your instructor will recognize the need for any changes to your current treatment plan.

The diabetic educator is an integral part to the diabetes health care management team. Along with your physician, endocrinologist, podiatrist, and other health care professionals, your educator will work to ensure you receive optimal care and learn to manage your disease.

References

[1]  National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators. (n.d.). Retrieved from National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators: http://www.ncbde.org/

[2] Ibid

[3]  Glycemic index: overview of implications in health and disease1. (n.d.). Retrieved from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/76/1/266S.full

This article was originally published July 12, 2012 and last revision and update of it was 9/10/2015.