I have some bittersweet news to share with you: today is my last day as Assistant Editor at DiabetesMine.
What could possess me to leave such a great position at an amazing diabetes blog? Well, I'm heading back to school to become a Certified Diabetes Educator!
This has actually been something that's been brewing inside me since I was in high school. I remember first mentioning the idea of being a diabetes educator to my parents when I was about 13 years old. But my parents weren't convinced that I would enjoy living with diabetes AND working in diabetes... Well, we all know how that turned out!
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They thought I might get tired of taking care of my own diabetes, and the diabetes of other people. They also weren't convinced I liked math and science enough to beat the path to a medical career. So I shelved that idea, and pursued my other passion: writing.
In college, I studied public relations, mostly because newspapers and magazines are a dying breed and I was convinced I could only get paid to write if I worked in PR. That lasted three years. When I was unceremoniously let go from my previous job, my husband (fiance at the time) and I considered the idea of my going back to school so that I could pursue a career as a diabetes educator. But it was a scary proposition. It would involve more school. More money. More time. And was I really sure that's what I wanted to do? Then I received an offer to join the 'Mine and the idea of being a diabetes educator was once again put on the back burner.
Writing plus diabetes sounded like the perfect match. But there was that nagging thought in the back of my mind: should I become a diabetes educator?
One of the amazing opportunities I've had through DiabetesMine (and our awesome parent company, Alliance Health Networks) is that we attend many of the leading industry events, like the American Diabetes Association's Scientific Sessions and the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. At these events, I've been exposed to the professional healthcare side of diabetes. While I met some amazing endocrinologists and diabetes educators, I also learned some staggeringly unsettling information.
First, there are simply not enough people to take care of all all the PWDs in this country. There aren't enough CDEs and there aren't enough endos. Second, there are simply not enough good CDEs and endos!
A description for one of the sessions at this year's AADE conference highlighted the need for more diabetes educators in my own backyard: "In New York State, there are 4.3 million people with diabetes/pre-diabetes, and only 600 CDEs whose average age is 54, 68% of whom work less than 25 hours/week."
Obviously, there's a need. And I'm thrilled to be pursuing this dream!
Now, you're probably wondering how all of this is going to happen. How does someone with a BA in public relations switch over to a career in diabetes education? I'll be honest: it won't be easy. My experience as a PWD counts for nothing, but honestly, I believe that's how it should be. To really teach someone how to manage their diabetes, you have to understand the Why and the How of the body and nutrition, not just how something plays out for you personally. However, as noted in my recent coaching post, there is unique benefit to having someone on your healthcare team who not only understands the disease, but also intimately understands what you're going through.
There are several different paths to becoming a CDE, and my game plan is to become a Registered Nurse, then transition to diabetes education. Starting in September, I'll work on some science and math prerequisites for nursing school for a year, then enroll in a local nursing school. Once I'm done with that, I have to work as a general nurse for two years. It's not my dream job, but I know the experience with patients and physicians will benefit me as an educator in the long run. After that, I can start looking for jobs in diabetes education, and take the exam to become a Certified Diabetes Educator after I've completed 1,000 hours. It sounds a little backwards to take the exam after working as a CDE, but I don't make up the rules.
Although I'll be in school full time, I'll still be popping up at the 'Mine periodically as a contributing writer. You'll hear from me on my usual topics of diabetes research, book reviews, and interviews, but you'll also hear about the continuing adventures of a wannabe CDE.
But there is something that will be a bit different in my future posts — I'm changing my name! Technically, I already changed my name when I got married last summer, but I chose to keep my maiden name as my professional published name. However, since I will eventually become a licensed medical professional, my license has to be the same as my legal name. And if I want to be published, it will also have to match the name on my license. So henceforth you shall see me around the Diabetes Online Community as Allison Nimlos (or AllisonN here at the 'Mine).
I'm very excited to embark on this new adventure. And who knows, maybe someday YOU might be one of my patients!