In case you missed my big announcement on Friday, I have left my full-time gig as Assistant Editor at DiabetesMine to go back to school to eventually become a Certified Diabetes Educator.
As I wrote on Friday, being a CDE is something that I have been thinking about doing since practically forever. I first mentioned it as a career possibility when I was in high school. But honestly, it always felt like becoming an astronaut. Sure, you could do it. But think about all the work that’s involved!
Over the past few months or so, things have been weighing on me. Things that I couldn’t avoid or talk my way out of, no matter how hard I tried. When it comes down to it, sometimes you just know what you need to do with your life and pushing it off might mean a life of regrets.
Here’s the thing about becoming a diabetes educator: once you’re out of your typical “college years,” they don’t make it easy. Actually, even when you start in your typical college years, it isn’t easy. To be a Certified Diabetes Educator, you first have to start out in one of a select few medical-oriented career paths. Things like nursing, dietetics, exercise physiology, podiatry…
So, you know, there are options.
When it came to deciding which career track I wanted to do, I debated between nursing and dietetics. The other fields seemed like it would take too much schooling for my background, and I also wanted to make sure that it was a field with a back-up plan. In the event I couldn’t get hired as a diabetes educator, I wanted to make sure I could still get a job in this economy. I looked around at current job listings for diabetes educators and most of them seemed to require either an RN or an RD, but nursing is also an in-demand career field so I knew I would still have a job. Nutrition and dietetics is also an in-demand job, but honestly, it didn’t interest me as much. Plus, there are only two accredited dietetics programs in my area. There are several nursing programs, so I feel slightly more confident about getting into a school.
Several of the nursing schools have what are called “accelerated” degrees, which essentially means that if you already have a Bachelor’s Degree, you basically skip over the “general education” requirements and go straight into the major. For me, that means when I start school, I would only take nursing classes, provided that I have my pre-reqs finished. An accelerated degree program takes roughly 15 to 18 months.
Nursing schools, however, are extraordinarily competitive. I’ve read on message boards how prospective nursing schools were wait-listed and accepted on their second application to a school. Although there are several nursing schools in my area, they all have slightly different pre-requisite classes, which means I can’t apply to all of them all at once. The classes I’m taking this year will qualify me to apply to at least two schools. But these schools that are already admitting students on a rolling basis for next year!
If I’m lucky and everything goes according to plan, I’ll finish nursing school before I’m 30. Then comes the two years of nursing experience, which is required to take the exam to become a diabetes educator. You can’t just get a nursing degree and then go straight into diabetes education. The Powers That Be require that I have two years of experience in my discipline of choice. Then once that’s been completed, I can apply for a job in diabetes education. Once I get one, I have to complete 1,000 hours of diabetes education before I can sit for the NBCDE exam. That’s the big test that decides my fate. Oh joy.
Since I have no idea how long it will take to find a job in nursing, and then find a job in diabetes education, I’m guessing it could take anywhere from three to five years to complete that portion of my Journey to CDE-hood.
Honestly, I think maybe I should try being an astronaut…
To say I’m nervous is the Understatement of the Year. While I’m essentially staying in the same industry, I’m changing the type of job entirely. It’s like going from the Creative Department to the Finance Department at a company. Same mission, wildly different responsibilities and expectations.
This term I’m signed up for Anatomy & Physiology, Principles of Inorganic Chemistry, and College Algebra with Trigonometry. I haven’t taken a biology class since college, and I haven’t taken math since my junior year in high school. I know some people consider me a spring chicken, but that was still ten years ago!
And then there’s the money. We thought about having me go to school part-time and work full-time, but with the amount of schooling I have to do, that would only push starting my career as a diabetes educator out even further.
Plus, we would eventually like to have children and no, I have absolutely no idea when that is going to happen. It certainly won’t be before I graduate from nursing school, so don’t bother asking until at least 2015.
We’re living in the New York City metro area on one full-time income, one freelancer’s income, and a tiny bit of financial aid. We also aren’t the most fiscally responsible of newlyweds either. We have credit card debt, very little savings, hardly any retirement. And like I said, we’re not spring chickens. We actually have to start thinking about these grown-up issues or we’re going to be in serious trouble down the line. I’m thankful that we’re not dropping from two incomes to one income. I will be bringing in money while going to school, so that’s a huge blessing. Otherwise, I don’t know what we would do.
I know that being a diabetes educator is what I’m supposed to do. I know that it’s essentially what I’ve been doing for the past ten years, just without any alphabet soup at the end of my name. I know that I have been blessed with some amazing doctors and educators in my life, and I want to be that kind of resource to others because there are so many people who need help and just aren’t getting it.
As appealing as it would be to close the door on my calling yet again, I know that I won’t last long before it comes knocking at my door again. Eventually you have to open yourself up and have a little faith.
When have you taken a leap of faith in your career? How did it pan out?