Workforce in Diabetes Education
The Workforce in diabetes education 2016 survey is ADEA’s first comprehensive national compilation of information and statistics related to the employment status of diabetes educators in Australia.
Findings from this survey provide a greater understanding of the diabetes education workforce in Australia and will assist ADEA in developing projects and resources to support members’ employment opportunities and career development.
The survey collected detailed information about the diabetes education workforce to identify:
- Employment of diabetes educators by geographical location and profession
- Education level and experience in providing diabetes education
- Emerging workforce trends, including private practice
- Workforce challenges for health professionals in diabetes education, specifically for diabetes educators
Open from April until June 2016, the survey received 595 completed responses (741 in total) from both members (518 individuals) and non-member professionals who provide diabetes education services. The majority of respondents (74%) were Credentialled Diabetes Educators (CDEs).
These are the main findings from the survey:
1. There is a mature workforce with 41% of participants aged between 50-59 years. This indicates the potential for skill shortages, as if diabetes continues to rise at the current rate, there will be at least 3.3 million Australian adults with diabetes by 20311 while over 41% of the workforce (50-59 years) would have retired. ADEA should continue engaging with the younger groups and keep them in the workforce while at the same time encouraging more health professionals to become diabetes educators.
2. Our workforce is very experienced, with 32% of participants having 10-20 years experience. Only 8% of respondents had less than 1-year experience.
3. The majority (94%) of respondents were female, similar to the gender distribution of ADEA’s membership.
4. Public hospitals are the most common work setting where 38% of participants are currently employed. This is followed by 28% of participants working in community health services or centres and 25% in private practices.
5. 54% of participants work in Victoria, followed by those in Queensland (33%) and NSW (31%) whereas NSW has the highest number of people with diabetes. This distribution of diabetes educators is similar to of the current ADEA membership.
If these statistics reflect the actual workforce distribution, considering the number of people with diabetes (who have registered with NDSS) in each state from the Diabetes Map, there would be a gap in workforce distribution compared to distribution of people with diabetes (supply vs. demand). The supply vs. demand modelling in chart 5 below reflects this gap. Assuming that all diabetes educators are currently participating in the workforce, in Victoria, each diabetes educator would have to look after 1,000 NDSS registrants, while in NSW each diabetes educator would have to look after 2,200 NDSS registrants on average.
6. Most respondents (85%) work in major cities (RA1), followed by inner regional areas (RA2).
7. More than 1 in six respondents (16%) are able to speak a language other than English, enabling them to engage with people with diabetes from CALD backgrounds.
8. The majority (78%) of respondents held a graduate certificate in diabetes education/care.
9. Most respondents (82%) were registered nurses.
10. Most respondents (81%) were employed as clinicians and 7% as non-clinicians.
11. 18% were not actively working in diabetes education, including:
- 9% who were employed elsewhere (not in diabetes education but held diabetes education qualification)
- 6% who were employed elsewhere and looking for work in diabetes education
12. Respondents perceived the main roles of the ADEA in supporting the diabetes education workforce to be:
- Advocating for the role of diabetes educators
- Increasing the value and awareness of the CDE and diabetes education
- Providing CPD opportunities
Key areas of focus for ADEA
It is suggested that ADEA focus on the following areas:
1. For current members:
- Supporting those from the eligible primary disciplines and encouraging them to become CDEs through the ADEA mentoring program, CPD activities and events
- Supporting new CDEs and upskilling them through CPD activities and events
- Encouraging experienced CDEs to support new and younger members through the ADEA mentoring program
2. For non-members: health professionals from different primary disciplines, such as dietitians, pharmacists, podiatrists, etc.
- Communicating and increasing their awareness on the value of CDE and diabetes education
- Engaging and encouraging them to consider becoming CDEs