Every pharmacist strives to better the lives of their patients. Becoming a certified diabetes educator (CDE) can help improve the lives of many who have diabetes.
A case in point: a pharmacist and assistant professor—who is a CDE—is revered by the diabetic patients she counsels.
“My most recent patient will walk into my pharmacy and call me his ‘hero,’ because I sat with him and educated him on the disease state and his medications so he could use them properly. He stated that no one else ever took this time with him,” said Nicole Pezzino, PharmD, CDE, Clinical Community Pharmacist at Weis Markets in Nanticoke, PA, and Assistant Professor at Wilkes University School of Pharmacy in Wilkes-Barre, PA.
“It is incredible to have the opportunity to meet a patient, and then individualize their plan to meet their personal needs, whether that be through medication, exercise, or diet. I have developed a deep, trusting relationship with my patients, which allows me to really develop a personalized plan that makes a positive impact on their life,” Pezzino told Drug Topics.
Pezzino knew she wanted to obtain the CDE designation as a pharmacy student at the University of Pittsburgh, where she worked with Scott Drab, PharmD, CDE, at his Diabetes Associates clinic. “I consider him to be one of the most influential mentors of my career,” she said.
Pezzino also craved the opportunity to work with other health-care practitioners and the CDE is multidisciplinary. “Other members of the health-care team know the merit behind the CDE distinction and my referral process has been streamlined,” she said.
Pezzino is one of a growing number of CDEs in the United States. Nearly 1,400 (7%) of the 19,484 CDEs are pharmacists, according to the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators, which manages credentialing.
There were only 12 pharmacist CDEs after the first exam in 1986, according to Jasmine Gonzalvo, PharmD, BCPS, CDE, a spokesperson for the American Association of Diabetes Educators, and Clinical Associate Professor at Purdue College of Pharmacy in Indiana.
“Pharmacists who hold the CDE credential have positioned themselves as experts in the field of diabetes, exceptionally capable of leading diabetes education programs and diabetes prevention programs,” Gonzalvo said
In Pezzino’s case, she expects that her CDE and the diabetes counseling she provides at Weis Markets will lead to reimbursement by health insurance providers in the future. “I currently have a cohort of patients I have been working with and tracking the outcomes, so that my practice site can become Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME)-accredited,” Pezzino said. “Through this accreditation, we will be able to hold more group classes and bill for our education classes.”
While Medicare currently recognizes the CDE and Board Certified-Advanced Diabetes Management (BC-ADM) credentials for reimbursement, it does not authorize provider status to pharmacists for diabetes education, with the exception of immunizations, according to Heidemarie MacMaster, PharmD, CDE, Associate Clinical Professor at UCSF School of Pharmacy.
“[H]opefully, Congress supports the pharmacist-as-provider model (H.R.592, S109), especially in underserved areas and without restrictions to physician-based clinics,” MacMaster said. “The national landscape is changing drastically with movement to recognize the pharmacist as a provider.”