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Debunk the myths on earning your Certified Diabetes Educator® (CDE®) certification

Empower yourself to help patients with diabetes

3 min read


Debunk the myths on earning your Certified Diabetes Educator® (CDE®) certification


Diabetes is a growing epidemic, and nurses are an important member of the care team that supports people with diabetes. Many people who provide care for patients with diabetes have chosen to specialize in diabetes education. This includes those who aspire to earn the Certified Diabetes Educator® (CDE®), certification offered by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators.  In fact, nurses, nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse specialists comprise nearly half of all CDEs.

A CDE is a health care professional who possesses comprehensive knowledge of and experience in prediabetes, diabetes prevention, and diabetes management. They educate and support people to understand and manage the condition, and they also promote self-management to achieve individualized behavioral and treatment goals that optimize health outcomes.

However, there are several myths that deter people from earning their CDE certification.

Myth: The two years of experience in your qualifying profession must be a) strictly in diabetes and b) a full-time job.

Fact: The two-year experience requirement a) is not restricted to diabetes, any experience — work or volunteer capacity — qualifies for the two-year time frame, as long as it is after you have met the discipline requirement; and b) does not have to be in a full-time job — the requirement is focused on dates only. Any part-time work or volunteer experience can be used.

Myth: In order to “count” the hours, you must go through each step of the DE process with every person you educate.

Fact: Any component of performing DE can count towards the practice hours. In addition, components of administration of a diabetes education service can count. Learn more here.

Myth: To count your DE practice hours, you must be a full-time diabetes educator.

Fact: You do not need to be in a full-time position to accrue DE hours. NCBDE encourages those interested to look at achieving the 1,000 hours in smaller chunks. When you break down the total requirement over several years (up to a maximum of four years prior to applying) and then over the hours needed per week, it becomes clear that it is an achievable goal. Part-time positions can certainly play a role in meeting the requirement. Just keep mind that at least 400 of the 1,000 hours must be within the prior 12 months of applying for certification.

Myth: Qualifying continuing education activities must include the word “diabetes” in the title.

Fact: The title does not need to include the word “diabetes”. The title must verify that the content is applicable to diabetes and includes all areas found on the exam content outline.

To earn the CDE certification, you need to:

  • Meet the discipline requirement.
  • Meet both of the following professional practice experience requirements: 
    General:  Obtain a minimum of two years professional practice experience in your discipline after meeting the discipline requirement.
    Diabetes Education (DE):  Obtain minimum of 1,000 hours providing DE sometime within the last four years, with at least 400 hours in the last 12 months.
  • Meet the continuing education requirement:  Obtain a minimum of 15 hours of approved continuing education.
  • Apply for and pass the exam: Once all the requirements are met, apply for and pass the certification exam.

Still not sure about your eligibility? Assess your eligibility with our quick checklist to determine where you are in the process!

November is National Diabetes Month! NCBDE acknowledges and appreciates its CDEs and all those who educate and support people with diabetes throughout the year. Contact NCBDE directly at 877 239-3233 with any questions regarding the CDE credential. You can also read more about the organization and the CDE credential via the website and Facebook page.