Diabetes health counselors advise people who have been diagnosed with diabetes on lifestyle changes they can make to improve their health and stave off the effects of what can be a debilitating disease. Counselors in this field are generally professionals in related fields such as dietetics or nursing who have extended their practice to include diabetic health counseling.
Certification of diabetes health counselors can be obtained through the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE). The board maintains the education requirements for each type of professional who wishes to obtain certification. Some fields require only the completion of an undergraduate degree. Dietitians, for example, can typically hold NCBDE certification with a bachelor’s degree, so long as they have met registration requirements mandated by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. Registered nurses also fall within this category so long as they are currently practicing with an unrestricted license in their state of employment.
Graduate and Professional Education
Other professionals seeking to become certified diabetes counselors need to have the appropriate level of education required for their field of professional practice. Doctors need to hold the M.D. or D.O. degree, while other professionals must hold their respective professional degrees. These include people who work in the fields of psychological counseling, optometry, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physical therapy and podiatry. Physician assistants must hold certification through the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. A master’s degree in social work is also acceptable for other health care professionals who do not fall into these categories.
In addition to meeting the minimum education requirements to be certified, professionals must meet the minimum experience requirements. The NCBDE requires that applicants have a minimum of two years of professional practice experience in their field. They are also required to have a minimum of 1,000 hours of diabetes self-management experience. Of these 1,000 hours, 400 must have been completed in the year prior to the submission of the application for diabetes counseling certification.
Continuing education is also necessary for diabetes health counselors. Health counselors are required by the NCBDE to complete continuing education prior to taking the certification exam. The board requires that aspiring counselors complete at least 15 hours that pertain to the field of diabetes education. This requirement must also be met to maintain certification once the applicant has passed the exam. These must be met within a five-year span following initial certification.