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Diabetes Nursing

Diabetes is a disease which is rapidly increasing in developed countries, therefore the need for nurses specializing in diabetes is also increasing. Diabetes, a disorder which affects the way the body turns food into energy, is related primarily to diet, but in some cases it is genetics, rather than a poor diet, which triggers diabetes.

Diabetes nurses work with patients suffering from diabetes. Sometimes, due to complications arising from the disease, diabetes patients find themselves hospitalized. Some diabetes nurses work with these patients, while other nurses specialize in diabetes education. Most diabetes nurses are also highly educated in the body’s endocrine system, because a thorough understanding the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroids, adrenals, and pineal glands are a necessity for treating diabetes effectively.

Endocrinology Nursing and Diabetes

There is some overlap between the fields of endocrinology nursing and diabetes nursing. Endocrinology nurses focus on the health of the entire endocrine system, and because the health of the endocrine system is often related to obesity and other disorders, many of the patients of endocrine nurses are also diabetes patients. Endocrinology pediatric nurses work with children with all types of endocrine system disorders, but children with type 1 diabetes are their most common type of patient. Other patients of endocrinology pediatric nurses include children with growth disorders and intersex disorders.

Diabetes Nurse Educators

Diabetes nurse educators are certified diabetes nurses who work with patients to help them self-manage their diabetes. These nurses help patients identify their goals (such as reducing the amount of medication necessary for managing their disease), create a plan of action with the patient, and teach patients what they need to know to help them live as comfortably as possible with diabetes.

Diabetes nurse educators are certified through the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE). The association requires that registered nurses (RNs) have a minimum of two years experience and one thousand hours (accumulated at a minimum rate of four hours per week) before he or she qualifies to take the certificate exam. Once RNs pass this exam, they must maintain their certification with continuing education courses, which are offered through the AADE. These nurses then become “CDEs”, or certified diabetes educators.

 

 

Diabetes Nurse Practitioners

Nurse practitioners are highly educated nurses (with a minimum of a master’s degree) who have greater ability to diagnose and treat their patients. In some rural areas, nurse practitioners are taking the place of the “town doctor”, as they are the primary source of health care in some of these areas. There are two types of diabetes nurse practitioners: there are nurse practitioners who specialize in diabetes, and there are nurse practitioners whose general practice includes a high percentage of diabetes patients.

Nurse practitioners who specialize in diabetes have an advantage over diabetes educators who are RNs, because as they see problems arise, they can adjust the medication of their patients without having to consent with the patient’s doctor or specialist. This makes caring for their patients a more streamlined process. Their patients have a higher continuity of care and less medical expense, because they only need to see one health practitioner rather than two (a diabetes educator nurse and a doctor).

But many nurse practitioners, especially those in low-income, rural areas where diets tend to be less healthy, face an increasing number of patients who are afflicted with diabetes. These nurses, while not diabetes specialists per se, are forced to become diabetes experts in the course of their work, as they work with their communities to prevent diabetes and catch and treat the disease early on once it has been contracted.

 

Becoming a Diabetes Nurse

Like other specialty nurses, diabetes nurses must first become a registered nurse or a nurse practitioner. As mentioned above they must then gain two years of on-the-job experience (at a minimum) in an environment in which they offer diabetes education to patients. They must accumulate at least 1,000 hours of experience in diabetes education, accrued at a rate of no less than four hours per day. Only then are they eligible to take the certification test to become a CDE.

Job Prospects for Diabetes Nurses

Diabetes is rapidly growing problem in the west, and this is compounded with an already critical shortage of nurses. As such, the job prospects for nurses who specialize in the field of diabetes are very good. It should be noted that most hospitals are looking for nurses who have master’s degrees, but will not accept nurses who have lower than a bachelor’s degree.

Salaries for diabetes nurse educators range greatly depending on experience and level of education, from as low as $40,000 per year to as much as $120,000 per year.

 

 


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