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Preparing for IBCLC Certification

As you think about a career as a lactation consultant, it is important that you keep in mind that an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®) is a professional member of the healthcare team. As such, a candidate for the IBLCE certification examination must have higher education in the health sciences, clinical practice in lactation and breastfeeding care and education in human lactation and breastfeeding.
Many IBCLCs are educated as clinical health professionals in other fields such as nursing, dietetics, midwifery and medicine. If you are not already educated in one of the clinical health professions listed on the Recognised Health Professions List, you may wish to explore this option.
Individuals who are educated in one of the Recognised Health Professions have already completed the Health Sciences Education required of IBLCE examination candidates. These individuals have another are likely to be able to use their paid or volunteer experience in providing care to breastfeeding families to meet the clinical practice hours required of IBLCE examination candidates.
The use of paid or volunteer experience in providing care to breastfeeding families as a Recognised Health Professional is the way many candidates meet the clinical practice prerequisite for the IBLCE certification examination. The other way to use paid or volunteer experience for meeting the clinical practice requirement is to obtain experience through service for a Recognised Mother Support Counsellor Organisation.
Let’s take a look at two scenarios and discuss how an individual in these situations might proceed toward their goal of becoming an IBCLC. The following documents will be referenced in these scenarios and you may find it helpful to have them available as you read.
Recognised Health Professions List
Recognised Mother Support Counsellor Organisations
Health Sciences Education Guide
 
Scenario 1: I am educated in one of the Recognised Health Professions.As a Recognised Health Professional, you have already completed the Health Sciences Education. It does not matter when you completed this education. When you apply for the IBLCE exam, you should be prepared to provide a copy of your license, registration, degree, diploma or transcript as proof of your education as a Recognised Health Professional.In the past five years, have you worked or volunteered in a capacity in which you provided lactation and breastfeeding care?
  • If you can answer “Yes” to this question, you will most likely be able to follow Pathway 1 to qualify for the IBLCE exam.
    • Pathway 1 requires 1000 hours of clinical practice in lactation and breastfeeding care that was obtained within the 5 years immediately prior to applying for the exam.
    • In addition, you will need to complete 90 hours of education in human lactation and breastfeeding within the 5 years immediately prior to applying for the IBLCE exam.
  • If your answer is “No,” you may wish to consider work or volunteer options in which you could obtain the required 1000 hours of clinical practice experience in lactation and breastfeeding care that would allow you to qualify through Pathway 1. Otherwise, you may wish to consider Pathway 2 or Pathway 3.
    • Pathway 2 requires completion of an academic program in lactation that includes the clinical practice hours and lactation education required to qualify for the IBLCE exam.
    • Pathway 3 requires that you contract with one or more recertified IBCLCs to obtain the required directly supervised clinical practice hours and, in addition, you must obtain 90 hours of lactation specific education.
Scenario 2: I am not educated in one of the Recognised Health Professions.As someone who is not a Recognised Health Professional, you will need to complete the 14 Health Science courses required of IBLCE examination candidates. You should review the Health Sciences Education Guide and determine whether or not you have completed these courses. When you apply for the IBLCE examination, you must be prepared to provide transcripts that demonstrate completion of a higher education course in each of the 14 subjects; each course must meet the requirements outlined in the Health Sciences Education Guide. In some parts of the world, enrollment in a course of study that would educate you in one of the Recognised Health Professions is the most direct way to meet the Health Sciences Education requirement. In other parts of the world, the higher education systems will allow you to enroll in individual Health Science Education courses without the requirement of declaring the intention to become a Recognised Health Professional.Obtaining the required clinical practice hours in lactation and breastfeeding care should be your next consideration. Some individuals obtain their clinical practice hours by working or volunteering for a Recognised Mother Support Counsellor Organization and following Pathway 1, which requires 1000 hours of clinical practice in lactation and breastfeeding care. Others choose to follow Pathway 2 or Pathway 3.
  • Pathway 2 requires completion of an academic program in lactation that includes the clinical practice hours and lactation education required to qualify for the IBLCE exam.
  • Pathway 3 requires that you contract with one or more recertified IBCLCs to obtain the required directly supervised clinical practice hours and, in addition, you must obtain 90 hours of lactation specific education.
You probably still have questions about the specifics of the examination eligibility requirements. Please review the information found on the Eligibility Criteria page of this website for more detail. In addition, this section of the website includes information about the Pathways you can follow to qualify for the IBLCE examination and Frequently Asked Questions about the IBLCE certification process. Answers to many of your questions can be found on these pages. Thank you for continuing to explore our website for answers.