An Opportunity for Greater Collaboration Between Industry, Clinical Practice in Diabetes Care

Two nurses working
Two nurses working
Diabetes educators in industry roles are uniquely poised to foster collaboration between industry and clinical practice.

NEW ORLEANS — There are a growing number of diabetes educators entering into industry positions whose primary role is to support health care professionals at diabetes centers and their patients. However, misperceptions about this non-traditional role may be preventing important collaborations that could help improve overall care of patients with diabetes, according to Linda Parks MS, RN, CDE, who is the director of Clinical Services at Tandem Diabetes.

There are many misperceptions of diabetes educators in the industry, she said. Some clinicians view them as individuals who gave up or abandoned traditional clinical roles/skills and, as a result, cannot clinically contribute to improving patient care or engage in unbiased research. Clinicians may also be skeptical about their motives and clinical judgment due to industry influence.

However, misperceptions can be dispelled. Parks said the reality is that collaboration with diabetes educators in the industry has the potential to have a greater impact on overall care and allow for greater exposure to various novel approaches.

“Approximately 1,000 plus diabetes educators work in the diabetes care industry in various positions that provide patient training, sales, product development and other leadership roles. These educators often offer support for the diabetes centers and endocrinologist offices with education and training of office staff and patients. Additionally, diabetes educators serve in the role of medical science liaisons, providing medical information and disseminating company-sponsored research findings,” said Parks.

Along with Kimberley Krapek, DNP-C, CNS, RN, CDE, scientific affairs manager at Abbott Diabetes Care, Mary Piszczak, BS, RN, CDE, clinical training manager at Tandem Diabetes Care, and Kelly Mann, MSN, FNP-BC, RN, CDE, clinical diabetes specialist at Tandem Diabetes Care, Parks discussed the potential for collaboration between industry and clinical care during a presentation at AADE 2015, the annual meeting of the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

Currently, there are a growing number of opportunities for certified diabetes educators (CDEs), according to Piszczak. She said the AADE estimates that as of 2007, there were approximately 15,000 CDEs and 15,000 diabetes educators in practice who have not been certified.

Additionally, the AADE currently has more than 14,000 members, and a conservative estimate is that more than 1,000 diabetes educators work in an industry role. Non-traditional positions are proliferating and significantly impacting diabetes care in a direct manner, Piszczak said.

“The diabetes educator in the clinical setting can collaborate successfully and effectively with the industry diabetes educator to provide the optimal support to the person with diabetes, while staying within the regulated guidelines,” Piszczak told Endocrinology Advisor

“We hope to encourage discussion on the traditional and non-traditional roles of a diabetes educator. We also hope to build bridges between the two and create synergies that are beneficial to the profession.”

Krapek said there are many ways that the AADE could embrace the expertise and leadership of CDEs in the industry. Taking such steps could mark a change in how patients are managed.

“It could help establish clearer guidelines for partnership to meet the needs of the organization and set up ongoing discussions of best practices,” said Krapek.

Collaboration in research can drive innovation and this type of partnering can help expand outreach and provide high quality education to patients, she added, noting that this collaboration also could help lead to greater support for advocacy and reimbursement.

Mann said there are a great number of complexities when it comes to managing chronic diseases such as diabetes, and the extent to which different health care professionals work well together can affect the quality of the health care that they provide.

She also said diabetes educators have been in industry positions since the 1980s.

“Over the last decade, regulations have been put in place to direct and guide these interactions to prevent conflict of interest, fraud, inducement and improve transparency between industry and health care professionals. This presentation/discussion was one of the first opportunities to bring the industry and clinical diabetes educator together to discuss areas of collaboration that would benefit the care of a person with diabetes,” Mann told Endocrinology Advisor.


  1. Parks L, Krapek K, Mann K, Piszczak M. T03 – Embracing Interprofessional Collaboration in Diabetes Care: Bridging the Gaps between Industry and Clinical Practice. Presented at: AADE 2015; Aug. 5-8, 2015; New Orleans.