Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear signed a bill recently that requires a license to practice diabetes education, a move that the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) says will enhance consumer protection and increase professional recognition.

"Ultimately, we think that this law will make it easier for people with diabetes to get the information they need to effectively manage their disease," said Martha Rinker, AADE`s Chief Advocacy Officer. "Diabetes education has been proven to mitigate the severe complications that are associated with diabetes."

AADE is advocating for licensure in all 50 states, Rinker said. The Association believes that state licenses deliver and communicate a standard of care, and ensure that people have an appropriate comfort level and respect for the discipline.

Rinker added that Diabetes Educators Licensure is intended for the health care professional who has a defined role as a diabetes educator, not for those who may perform some diabetes-related functions as part of or in the course of other routine occupational duties.

All health care providers need sufficient diabetes knowledge to provide safe, competent care to persons with or at risk for diabetes. Licensure of the Diabetes Educator will provide minimum standards for patient safety and for recognition of the professional. And, this will address the current workforce shortage of qualified professionals who can deliver diabetes education, Rinker said.

While diabetes education is a covered benefit through Medicare and many private insurers, many people with diabetes are unfamiliar with how to manage the disease and how to seek education.

Diabetes educators are highly skilled professionals integral to the multidisciplinary diabetes care team. They counsel patients on how to incorporate healthy eating and physical activity into their life. They also help patients understand how their medications work, teach them how to monitor their blood glucose to avoid the risk of complications, and give them the ability to problem solve and adjust emotionally to diabetes.

The role of the diabetes educator can be assumed by professionals from a variety of health disciplines, including, but not limited to: Registered nurses, registered dietitians, pharmacists, physicians, mental health professionals, podiatrists, optometrists, and exercise physiologists. Some services, such as nutrition counseling, medication counseling and psychological support services, however, may be provided in collaboration with a licensed dietitian, registered pharmacist, a licensed psychologist or social worker, or a psychiatric and mental health clinical nurse specialist or nurse practitioner.

Mastery of the knowledge and skills to be a diabetes educator is obtained through professional practice experience, continuing education, individual study, and mentorship. Many diabetes educators have earned the Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) credential and/or some have become Board Certified in Advanced Diabetes Management (BC-ADM).

Source: American Association of Diabetes Educators Press Release

Originally posted by on April 8, 2011.