Diabetes Nursing

Updated | Published

Diabetes is rampant in the US and gaining strength every year. This opens the door for nurses to care for and educate these patients. There are many avenues for nurses to obtain the needed education to provide this care. Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) have even more opportunities related to diabetes care.

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 29 years experience.

How Can I Get Into Diabetes Nursing?

Diabetes Nursing

Prevalence of Diabetes (Diagnosed and Undiagnosed)

Diabetes is growing by leaps and bounds and Nurses are on the forefront of diabetic care. According to the 2020 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Diabetes Statistics Report:

  • 34.2 million people of all ages (or 10.5% of the US population) had diabetes.
  • 34.1 million adults aged 18 years or older—or 13.0% of all US adults—had diabetes (Table 1a; Table 1b).
  • 7.3 million adults aged 18 years or older who met laboratory criteria for diabetes were not aware of or did not report having diabetes. This number represents 2.8% of all US adults and 21.4% of all US adults with diabetes.
  • The percentage of adults with diabetes increased with age, reaching 26.8% among those aged 65 years or older.

Qualities of a Diabetes Nurse

  • Knowledge of diabetes that will allow the nurse to provide education for a wide range of patients from children through adults including their family members. This knowledge can be obtained from formal education at a college or university and verified by a certification exam.
  • Compassion for the complications that can often occur with diabetes. Even well-controlled diabetics are at a higher risk for retinopathy, neuropathy, nephropathy and a host of other co-morbid conditions. If patients experience these complications, it might be necessary for the nurse to work closely with the patient to collaborate a more effective plan in order to minimize the effects of these complications.
  • Patience with patients who might be resistant to education or who do not wish to be compliant
  • Knowledge of community resources. Having diabetes can be expensive especially if long-acting insulin, insulin pen, or insulin pumps are used. Insurance coverage may or may not cover these expenses.

Job Environment (not all-inclusive)

  • Staff nurse on a medical-surgical unit as many patients will have diabetes as a co-morbid condition
  • Staff nurse on a renal floor as the two top reasons in the US for renal failure are diabetes and hypertension
  • Staff nurse in transplant clinics. Again, these nurses deal with many diabetics that have either end-stage renal disease and need a kidney or a kidney/pancreas transplant.
  • Staff nurses can also be employed by nephrology practices providing education to patients who are experiencing complications from diabetes
  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) in a nephrology practice, internal medicine clinic, diabetic care clinic, or hospital. The APRN role might be as a consultant or as a primary care provider of diabetic patients.
  • APRNs can also work in transplant, providing pre and post-transplant care as well as monitoring these patients long term.


  • Graduate from an accredited RN nursing program
  • Degree: Diploma, ADN, BSN, MSN, Doctorate
  • Successfully pass the NCLEX-RN
  • Current, unencumbered RN license in U.S. state of practice


Diabetes Nurses can also be certified as diabetic educators. The Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists (ADCES) offers the Board Certified-Advanced Diabetes Management (BC-ADM®) certification for RNs, Nurse Practitioners (NP), and Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS). As of March 2020, the BC-ADM is on the list of accepted certifications for the ANCC Magnet Recognition Program®.

BC-ADM Eligibility (not all-inclusive)

  • Registered Nurses (RN) including APRNs (NP and/or CNS)
  • Advanced Practice degree (master's or higher in relevant field)
  • 500 clinical practice hours in advanced diabetes management within 48 months prior to taking examination
  • Clinical hours must take place after relevant licensure and advanced degree have been obtained

Job Outlook

As diabetes spreads to more and more of our population, opportunities will exist for specially trained Registered Nurses and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) to manage diabetes care.

There will be an increasing need for APRN diabetic educators and providers who have the education and experience to provide patient and family education as well as day-to-day management of diabetes.


According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual pay for a Diabetes Nurse in the U.S. is $91,197 and ranges between $56,000 to $105,500.

14-yr RN experience, ER, ICU, pre-hospital RN, 12+ years experience Nephrology APRN.

163 Articles   21,062 Posts

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Register To Comment