What Does a Diabetes Nurse Do?
Diabetes nurses care for patients that suffer from diabetes, a condition that affects the body’s ability to produce or absorb enough insulin. This includes assisting patients in monitoring their blood sugar and medications, helping to minimize diabetic nerve damage, conducting nutritional therapy, dealing with psychosocial issues and behavioral management. They also spend a considerable amount of time educating patients and families on proper dietary, exercise and lifestyle habits to keep symptoms under control. These nurses also have a specialized knowledge of the endocrine system, including the hypothalamus, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenals, pineal body and the reproductive glands. Diabetes nurses must possess excellent communication skills in order to relay information between patients, physicians, family members and even insurance companies. They must also be compassionate as they are dealing with a disease that is often chronic and can be life threatening. Many diabetes nurses become advocates for diabetes awareness and even go on to become diabetes educators.
How Can I Become a Diabetes Nurse?
Becoming a diabetes nurse requires both education and experience. First a student must become a registered nurse via either a two year associate’s or four year bachelor’s degree. Then students must take and successfully pass the National Council Licensing Examination (NCLEX-RN) to become a registered nurse. Many facilities also require diabetes nurses to become certified as advanced diabetes specialists. In order to become eligible for the certification exam, nurses must possess a master’s level degree and a minimum of 500 hours of professional nursing experience in a diabetes setting. This exam is called the Advanced Diabetes Management Certification and is administered via the American Association of Diabetes Educators and the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Once a nursing professional has become certified, they must complete regular continued education classes in diabetes in order to stay up to date on the latest technology and research in their field.
What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for a Diabetes Nurse?
The nursing profession in general is expected to grow by an astounding 23% by 2016. With the influx of aging baby boomers entering the health care system, the number of patients with diabetes has also increased. As of 2000, at least 171 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes and the number is steadily growing. This increase requires an educated and experienced workforce to combat the disease. These factors combine to ensure that the future employment outlook for diabetes nurses is excellent. The average annual salary of diabetes nurses is $53,000 per year but this varies greatly depending on geographic location, education, experience, and facility type. One of the drawbacks to working as a diabetes nurse is the inability to cure diabetes. As a chronic disease, the majority of care is provided to lessen the symptoms and discomfort of patients. A benefit to working with diabetes patients is the ability to build strong relationships with one’s patients as well as the chance to dramatically improve their quality of life.