Diabetes education, formally called diabetes self-management training, is a process by which people learn the key elements of caring for diabetes day-to-day, from how to eat healthy, managing their glucose-lowering and other medications, to problem solving and coping with the evolving nature of diabetes.

How "teachers" help

Diabetes educators, who provide diabetes education, are health care professionals, typically nurses, dietitians and pharmacists, who have specialized expertise and possibly additional credentials to help people achieve and maintain optimal health over the course of their lifetime.

Taking care of diabetes is no doubt challenging, but ever more possible today.

People with diabetes and their health care providers may not realize that diabetes self-management training, when provided in an accredited program, is a covered benefit through Medicare, many private insurers and health plans. While these programs are most commonly found at hospitals or medical centers, programs are increasingly found at public health facilities, community centers, pharmacies and even virtually.

Working with your educator

Depending on the specific situation, insurance and primary care provider’s preferences, a person may meet with a diabetes educator several times—either individually, in a group or both. Medicare and private insurance and health plans cover up to 10 hours of diabetes education in the first year of diagnosis, with varying levels of coverage in the ensuing years.

The person with diabetes and their educator work together to set self-care behavior change goals that take into account individual aspects of their diabetes management, current lifestyle and habits, personal preferences and culture. Over time, diabetes educators can continue to work alongside people with diabetes to help them achieve their diabetes-care goals and serve as a source of support to help people achieve their best life in spite of diabetes.

The first step to access the services of a diabetes educator is to ask one’s primary care provider for a referral to an accredited diabetes self-management education program.