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Diabetes Educator Name Change: CDE to CDCES

Updated: Jan 9


In 2019 it was announced that the title Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) will be rebranded as Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES). The American Association of Diabetes Educators (now renamed the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists) felt a more appropriate title could better represent who we are and what we do. They did market research to test out different potential names and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist came out the clear winner. What does this all mean? In a sense, nothing. No one has to recertify or retake any exam as it is simply a name change.

What’s in a name? Nothing? Everything? We know that language matters. Sometimes what you say isn’t as important as how you say it or the vocabulary that you use. “Diabetes educator” did not reflect the full knowledge, skills and values of this diverse group of healthcare professionals. We have a variety of backgrounds (some of us are dietitians, some are nurses, some are pharmacists, etc) and have a wide variety of roles. Many do a lot more than provide patient education. This discrepancy was limiting the understanding of the profession by other medical professionals, insurance companies and patients. “Diabetes educator” also seemed to have a negative connotation. There was an assumption that people with diabetes would be talked at rather than being coached and supported.

I personally have heard a mixed reception from the CDE/CDCES community about the name change. It’s great that we’re getting a new name that encompasses more of what we do, but change can be hard. We help our patients with behavior and medication changes all day, yet we can struggle with change as well. There’s also a lot of practical issues that require time and money to deal with regarding a name change. Voicemail messages, e-mail signatures, business cards, name tags, signage, and more all need to be updated.


It’s also kind of strange to have someone change your name without your direct input. I personally was frustrated because just in 2012 and 2013 similar changes were made regarding the dietitian profession. The American Dietetics Association became the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Registered Dietitians were now optionally called Registered Dietitian Nutritionists. These changes were made for similar reasons – a rebrand to help people understand who we are. Adding nutrition into the brand makes sense as this is what we do- not everyone knows what dietetics is. I also got married and changed my last name in between all this rebranding, so I felt like I was constantly changing everything at work.

Healthcare is always in a dynamic state of change so it makes sense that these changes will occur. We’re not the only group sprucing up their title. Proctologists are now colorectal surgeons and the Institute of Medicine is now the National Academy of Medicine just to name a couple. It’s probably going to take some time for both healthcare professionals and patients to adapt to our new name.


To learn more about CDCESs, read my blog post: What is a Diabetes Educator?

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