To pursue your IBCLC credential, you’ll need 90 hours of lactation-focused training.Maybe you already have 45 hours of lactation training and you have earned a credential for successful completion of the course. How will you get 45 hours of lactation training to make up the difference?
How can you choose a course that meets your need? Here are five questions you should ask yourself before you select a course.
1. What is the goal of the course?
I know, I know, it’s easy for your eye to jump right to the advertised content of the course. But I suggest you look for a course that meets your learning need. What’s the secret? See what is listed as the course goal. The goal of the course should be to prepare you for the IBLCE exam.
Just as importantly, if you can’t readily see the course’s goal, there’s a high likelihood that the rest of the course will be also be vague. (Objectives are also important, but are sometimes omitted from advertising brochures because they take up a lot of space.)
2. What is the format of the course?
There are many smaller questions that fit here. Is the course online, on site, or hybrid? If it’s online, what are the major teaching methods? Almost every online course offers videos and Powerpoint handouts because that’s the way most instructors learned the material when they went into the field.
That doesn’t mean it’s the best bet for you in your attempt to acquire your next 45 hours of lactation training. Focusing on completing the course, while necessary, is not sufficient. Instead, focus on how the course will help you to acquire and retain the information you’ve learned so that you ca pass the IBLCE exam and oh-by-the-way, give better care to your clients!
3. How does the course “fit” with your earlier 45 hours of lactation training?
Ideally, you want your last 45 hours of lactation training to fill in the gap left by your first 45 hours. What do I mean by that? I’m not in any way implying that your first 45 hours of lactation training was substandard, inadequate, or deficient. I’m saying that a 45- hour course is, by definition, not enough to fulfill IBLCE’s 90-hour requirement.
Yet, as I’ve said before, “sitting” for the IBLCE exam is a short-sighted goal. A better goal is passing the IBLCE exam on the first try! Like pieces to a puzzle, you want to find—and plug in!—the pieces that will give you the whole picture for the IBLCE exam.
Looking at the course content will help, but it’s not foolproof. Course directors don’t necessarily use the same terms or taxonomies. One course may list “maternal medical complications” whereas another one lists “maternal pathology.” That might be the same content—or it might not.
4. Ask yourself what type of learner you are.
This is a hugely important question that most would-be course participants overlook.
Some learners can be told what to read or learn or do, and they could be released on their own recognizance for the next three years and do just fine. Others need some direction and some structure, and they need to be thrown a lifeline from time to time during the process.
Still others need a lot of instructor-learner exchanges. Some online courses offer little of such interaction, but if you’re the type of learner who needs to ask plenty of questions and have plenty of feedback during those 90 hours of instruction, make sure you set yourself up accordingly.
5. How will you know what you know?
Many courses—on site or online—give a final exam. That might be enough for you. Or, you might be the type who freezes when you get to the end and realize that this is your one and only chance to show that you know your stuff.
More to the point, how will you know what you don’t know? That’s a critical question.
These five questions might not be the only questions, but having prepared nearly 5,000 IBLCE exam candidates over many years, it seems to me that these are the best questions to ask as you begin seeking another 45-hour course.
If you haven’t obtained your “other” 45 hours yet, what has been the one biggest barrier to doing so?