Diabetes nurse specialists work with diabetic patients to control and manage their diabetes. A diabetes nurse specialist may help diabetes patients to monitor their medication and blood sugar. A nurse specialist may also help diabetic patients to minimise other symptoms of diabetes, including diabetic nerve damage. Their role may be to educate patients about proper diet and/or to help prevent diabetes in the general population. Diabetes nurses can offer pre-diabetic patients diet and nutrition counselling and diabetes education. Because of the specialised nature of the work, becoming a diabetes specialist nurse requires education, experience and credentials.
Become a registered nurse by obtaining an associate's degree in nursing or a bachelor's degree in nursing science. An associate's degree takes two years to obtain, while a bachelor's degree takes four years to obtain. In many cases, a bachelor's degree is preferable, and may be required to become a certified nurse specialist like a diabetes nurse. Many hospitals offer RN to BSN programs that allow you to begin work with an associate's degree and obtain your bachelor's degree while working as a nurse, sometimes with tuition reimbursement. You also must take and pass the national nursing exam, called the NCLEX-RN exam, in order to become a registered nurse.
Get practical experience and/or additional education. In order to become a diabetes nurse, you must have either practical experience working in the field, or advanced education or both. Nursingcredentialing.org states that a minimum of 500 practice hours in diabetes care may be required to become certified as an advanced diabetes specialist. A master's degree as a clinical nurse specialist may also be required. The Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that the four specialisations (including diabetes specialist nurses) require a master's degree, while Nursingcredentialing.org suggests that a master's degree is preferred but that a bachelor's, coupled with experience, may suffice.
Become certified as a diabetes specialist. The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists states that you obtain certification through the The American Nurses Credentialing Center. The American Nursing Credentialing Center requires 500 hours of experience, as well as a passing score on a Diabetes Management Board Certification exam.