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How diabetes educators can lead patients to better health

The rising incidence of diabetes is placing new importance on patient education.

3 min read


How diabetes educators can lead patients to better health

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Diabetes is a serious health concern in the US and around the world. SmartBrief spoke with registered nurse Carolé Mensing, MA, CDE, FAADE, about how certified diabetes educators can make a difference for patients with this condition and the practices that care for them.

How does the rising incidence of prediabetes and the diagnosis of diabetes affect clinicians, clinical practices and care planning, and what are the implications of rising life expectancy among affected patients? 

The incidence and prevalence of diabetes has increased both nationally and globally, in both developed and underdeveloped worlds, and people are also living longer with diabetes.  Health care systems are inundated, and costs are rising. Educational care planning led by a credentialed nurse or other credentialed diabetes educator serving in a direct provider role supports clinical care over the person’s lifetime.1

Carolé Mensing

Where does patient education fit into diabetes prevention and care? Can you characterize its importance?

Classic research demonstrates that education enhances quality of life and encourages self-care behaviors, skills and support for current and future health. Improved population health is reliant on skilled clinicians to carry out this important mission. Credentialed diabetes educators have expertise in all of these areas. 1

Please describe what an effective diabetes education plan of action looks like, including optimal timing and delivery. 

The recommended timing for an effective education plan is at four critical care points:

  1. Diagnosis
  2. Annual assessment
  3. When new complicating factors appear
  4. When transitions of care occur.

Education is based on an individualized assessment of self-management needs (gaps in knowledge, skill or coping). Content is delivered in a supportive environment by a team that includes a credentialed professional, para-professionals, supportive family and others. 2

How does diabetes education influence diabetes outcomes? Does certification have an impact on outcomes?

Literature suggests that utilization of a credentialed provider who specializes in a chronic disease condition brings more updated skills and knowledge to patient care, and outcomes improve as a result.  Clinical improvement indicators for diabetes include: improved A1C, lipid blood pressure and body mass index levels; better perceived health status; improvements in quality of life; and lower health-care costs.1

Why might certification be an important career move for clinicians engaged in diabetes care?

Health care providers rely on specialty practitioners to provide “best practice” literature and supportive documents. Many certified diabetes educators in nursing experience enhanced opportunities for career development and leadership as well as personal pride in obtaining and maintaining their Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)™ credential. 1,3

Carolé Mensing, RN, MA, CDE, FAADE, is a private consultant, having recently retired from the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. Her career has focused on nursing and diabetes education, and her work has placed emphasis on advancing one’s knowledge of educational strategies, teaching learning concepts, and group education as a powerful delivery option. She is the chair of the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators and has held numerous leadership roles in the field.


  1. The Art and Science of Diabetes Self-Management Education Desk Reference, 4th Edition. (2017) American Association of Diabetes Educators.
  2. Powers, M., Bardsley, J., Cypress, M., et al.  (2015)  Diabetes self- management education and support in type 2 diabetes: a joint position statement of the American Diabetes Association, the American Association of Diabetes Educators, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; The Diabetes Educator.  41:421
  3. The CDE: Limitations of the Credential.  National Certification Board of Diabetes Educators.