Updated terminology for diabetes self-management education and support professionals

Table of Contents Published by:Reference:For more information:Diabetes In Real Life November 15, 2021 3 min…

November 15, 2021

3 min read

Healio interview

Dickinson reports no relevant financial disclosures. Weiner reports serving as a clinical adviser to Livongo Health.

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Susan Weiner

Jane K. Dickinson

Susan Weiner, MS, RDN, CDN, CDCES, FADCES, talks with Jane K. Dickinson, RN, PhD, CDCES, about the recent changes in terminology and abbreviations in the world of diabetes self-management education and support.

Weiner: There have been big changes in what was previously called diabetes education. What are the new names and initials for what we used to call diabetes educators and CDEs?

Diabetes self-management education and support terminology has undergone numerous changes over the past 3 years.

Dickinson: In August 2019, the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) announced that the specialty of diabetes education was undergoing a name change to “diabetes care and education.” At the same time, it announced that diabetes educators would be called “diabetes care and education specialists.”

Weiner: What was the reason for this change?

Dickinson: The new specialty name better reflects the work we do. We are much more than educators. Diabetes care and education specialists certainly teach people with diabetes how to perform and navigate the many tasks related to managing diabetes on a daily basis. We also screen for diabetes distress, cardiometabolic comorbidities, and other health conditions and complications often associated with diabetes. We support people during and between health care visits. We track and report data, and we conduct, publish and present research. We serve as a resource to the other members of a person’s health care team.

Weiner: Tell me more about the people who make up the diabetes care and education specialty.

Dickinson: We are an interprofessional group, consisting of nurses, dietitian nutritionists, pharmacists and others. Within the “other” category, there are physicians, psychologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, exercise physiologists, social workers, health educators and still others. We bring well-rounded perspectives and skills to the diabetes care and education table.

Weiner: What other changes have followed as a result of this announcement?

Dickinson: In January 2020, AADE began a formal rebranding process to promote the new specialty name, and our national organization officially became the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (ADCES). The credentialing body for the former Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) — the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators, or NCBDE — became the Certification Board for Diabetes Care and Education (CBDCE), and the credential is now the Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES). Anyone who held a CDE in January 2020 was automatically transitioned to the CDCES.

Weiner: Was there outside support for this name change?

Dickinson: Yes! The board of directors at the then-AADE used data from national practice surveys, environmental scans and external market research that surveyed multiple stakeholder groups to support the decision to reposition the diabetes educator as a critical resource integrated within the health care team.

Weiner: What are others saying about this change? Is it catching on?

Dickinson: We still have a lot of work to do to get the word out about our specialty name change. I see the old abbreviations in many places and hear the organizations called by their former names. It’s hard to get used to a change like this — especially when it involves new initials and a lot of them.

What everyone needs to know is that we are diabetes care and education specialists. If we hold certification in the specialty, we are CDCESs. Our national organization is the ADCES, and our credentialing body is the CBDCE.

We hope that everyone will update their email signatures and business cards. We also hope that they will share this important news with other health care professionals and that clinicians across the country will start using our new terminology. More important, we hope that health professionals recognize the value of diabetes care and education specialists and work to integrate us in all practice settings.


For more information:

Jane K. Dickinson, RN, PhD, CDCES, is program director and senior lecturer at Teachers College Columbia University. She can be reached at [email protected]; Twitter: @JaneKDickinson.

Susan Weiner, MS, RDN, CDN, CDCES, FADCES, is co-author of The Complete Diabetes Organizer and Diabetes: 365 Tips for Living Well. She is the owner of Susan Weiner Nutrition PLLC and is the Endocrine Today Diabetes in Real Life column editor. She can be reached at [email protected]; Twitter: @susangweiner.