Certification for Diabetes Educators
ADA's Recognition Program Helps Keep Standards High
Elizabeth T. Leong, RD, CDE, knew that many Chinese immigrants in Oakland, Calif., weren't getting vital information about managing their diabetes. So Leong, a dietitian and diabetes educator, worked with Family Bridges Inc., a nonprofit organization assisting Asian immigrants and other groups, to open a center in 2006 to bring diabetes education to Oakland's Chinatown. The Family Bridges Diabetes Education Center aims to help improve diabetes care for all Asians and Asian Americans living in Chinatown and offers Chinese immigrants in particular the opportunity to learn about diabetes in Cantonese, Mandarin, or English.
One key to the center's success is that it is accredited by the American Diabetes Association Education Recognition Program. That seal of approval ensures that people who attend the center are getting an effective and affordable education. It also means that health insurance will cover the cost of that education, since the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services only pay for education provided by accredited programs like ADA's. Most private insurers follow suit.
ADA's recognition process is demanding, says Paulina Duker, MPH, RN, BC-ADM, CDE, director of education and recognition programs at ADA, but the association works with providers to help them improve their programs to meet certification requirements.
You can find an ADA-recognized provider of diabetes education by visiting diabetes.org/erp.
"There are some things we don't compromise on—like if staff isn't qualified, a program will not be approved," Duker says. Still, about 95 percent of programs that seek accreditation ultimately obtain it.
Earning recognition status is a task that comes up again every three years when programs must seek recertification. Without the accreditation process, says Duker, who worked as a certified diabetes educator for 14 years in Princeton, N.J., it would be tough to make sure that educators have the latest information on diabetes care and education. ADA requires that educators take a minimum of 15 hours of course work a year in diabetes-related topics. "There are many myths perpetuated about diabetes," Duker says. "There's a lot of inaccurate information out there. We make sure that instructors are qualified and stay current."
ADA staff members review more than 600 applications a year for the recognition program and work with 50 volunteer auditors who ensure that accredited organizations are maintaining high standards. Today, ADA recognizes more than 2,000 programs offering education in a total of 3,350 hospitals, doctor offices, clinics, and other facilities in all
50 states and Puerto Rico.
Duker encourages people with diabetes to take advantage of all the hours of education their insurers will cover, including sessions right after diagnosis and periodically afterward, depending on each person's needs. She recommends being proactive in finding an education provider. "Patients shouldn't give up in looking for a good program. If the patient is
not on top of [his or her diabetes care], the doctor is going to have a hard time being on top of it."