NCBDE has decided to include those with a Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) credential to be eligible for the Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) exam. The organization’s current Chair of the Board, Carolyn Harrington, RD, LDN, CDE explains why the organization decided to do so and how the review process works.

By: John Parkinson, Clinical Content Coordinator,

The National Certification Board of Diabetes Educators (NCBDE) is the organization that oversees the requirements of the CDE examination, and its mission is to define, develop, maintain and protect the certification and credentialing process to promote quality diabetes education.

Carolyn Harrington (pictured here) is NCBDE’s 2013 Chair of its Board of Directors. NCBDE’s board is made up of nine CDEs and Harrington has served on the board for over three years. She is a registered dietitian and has been a CDE for twenty years.

NCBDE was approached by the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) to include the MCHES credential. NCBDE’s credential committee reviewed the application, and recommended to Harrington and the Board they approve the addition of the MCHES to the list of eligible credentials for entry into the CDE exam.  Approval came earlier this year, and anyone who holds a MCHES will be able to qualify for CDE certification beginning next year. spoke with Harrington about why NCBDE decided to approve MCHES, how the credential review process works, and some exciting news about volunteering and eligibility requirements. Why is the Certified Diabetes Educator Credential so important?

Harrington: The CDE is viewed as the “gold standard” among diabetes educators. Those who are CDEs value the credential and feel it’s a credential to “protect the public” in regards to the provision of quality diabetes education services. Can you explain why NCBDE decided to include the MCHES credential as being eligible to qualify for the CDE?

Harrington: After extensive review by the NCBDE Credentials Committee, the recommendation was made to the Board of Directors at the Feb 23, 2013 meeting to approve the Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) as a discipline credential for purposes of fulfilling the NCBDE Discipline requirement. The Society for Public Health Education submitted a detailed cross-walk between the MCHES competencies and NCBDE`s examination Content Map.  

The NCBDE Credentials Committee was impressed with the rigor of the eligibility criteria and the close relevance of MCHES competencies to the expected competencies of a diabetes educator as reflected in the NCBDE Content Map. In addition, in order to maintain the MCHES credential, people must fulfill similar NCBDE renewal requirements (75 hours of approved continuing education over the five year certification period). What do you mean when you say a cross-walk map?

Harrington: If we look at the MCHES, they mapped out all of the criteria for somebody to have that credential, and they basically did the same with what is required to earn a CDE credential. And when you look across MCHES criteria to the CDE criteria, they pretty closely matched. Can you provide an overview of how the review process works to include new credentials?

Harrington: Any request that comes to NCBDE for review of a credential under the Discipline Requirement is turned over to the NCBDE Credentials Committee for review, study, and ultimately a recommendation to the NCBDE Board of Directors.





 is there a certain type of synergy NCBDE is looking for in what might be a good fit for CDE eligibility?  

Harrington: In terms of adding new disciplines, we do it on a case-by-case basis. If you look at who make up the almost 18,000 CDEs, the predominant groups are nurses and nurse practitioners and then registered dietitians. If you had a pie chart, you would see we have two-thirds of CDEs coming from nursing, one-third of the chart being registered dietitians, and then you have a smaller fraction in our “other” category, which includes pharmacists, physicians, social workers, exercise physiologists and so on.

NCBDE’s focus is trying to increase the number of CDEs in the “other” category. For example, our CEO, Sheryl Traficano, exhibited at a pharmacy meeting earlier this year. We really want to target pharmacists because more of them are able to provide diabetes education services. Is NCBDE looking at other credentials to include in the coming year or two?  

Harrington: There have been other requests, but the NCBDE Credentials Committee has requested further detail from the organizations (such as a detailed cross-walk map). No other organizations are currently before the NCBDE Credentials Committee for review.

One other new thing to note: at the June 8 NCBDE Board of Directors meeting, the Credentials Committee presented a recommendation to allow volunteer hours as part of the 1,000 hours required to qualify for initial certification. This was approved and will be effective 1/1/2014.  This means that a health professional who volunteers at a diabetes camp or facilitates a diabetes support group may count those hours toward their eligibility requirement.

To find out more about NCBDE’s activities, interested readers can go here.