Marie's Outlook

50 Questions You Should Ask Before Applying for the IBLCE Exam 

circles with question marks

It seems as if applying for an exam should be straightforward. But that is not always the case. If you’re feeling a bit off-kilter, I wonder: Are you asking the right questions?  

Before you read on, I must remind you that I’m not an IBLCE spokesperson. While I endeavor to keep the information in my blog up-to-date, I encourage you to verify details about the exam with the resources on the IBLCE site.   

Also, these are questions related to eligibility for taking the IBLCE exam. Questions related to the structure, rules, and format for the exam have been addressed elsewhere in this blog. 

  1. I know I must fulfill both academic and clinical requirements. Must I fulfill these obligations before I apply for the exam, or before I take the exam? (HINT: This might be the most important question!) 
  2. About how long is it from the time I apply for the exam until I can take it?   
  3. When is the next application deadline?  
  4. Do I really need to take a LEAARC-approved course? 
  5. I am an LPN (or LVN) but not an RN. Can I still go Pathway 1? 
  6. I cannot decide which pathway I should go. How can I determine which is best for me? 
  7. I’m confused between the requirements for college-level healthcare sciences course, and college in Pathway 2. What’s the difference—or are they the same?  
  8. I have no healthcare background. Do I have to become a nurse in order to be eligible for the IBLCE exam? 
  9. I understand that I need 90 hours of lactation-focused education. But how many hours do I need for each healthcare science course?  
  10. I completed my healthcare sciences courses more than 20 years ago. Are those courses still “good” or must I take them again? 
  11. I’m a nurse. I heard that I don’t have to prove that I took the healthcare sciences courses. Is that true? 
  12. I am a veterinarian, and I took plenty of anatomy and physiology courses. Will those count? 
  13. I have never completed some of the basic healthcare sciences courses. How many do I need to take—and what are they?  
  14. I hear there are some healthcare sciences courses that I must take at a college, and others that I can take elsewhere. What’s what? 
  15. Is there any way that I can “test out” of those healthcare sciences courses? 
  16. Are there any free courses or low-cost healthcare sciences courses? 
  17. How do I prove that I took my healthcare sciences courses? 
  18. I took my 90 hours of lactation-focused education 8 years ago. Will that still count towards my requirement? 
  19. Must I take the healthcare sciences courses before I take the lactation-focued educational hours?  
  20. I have been a hospital nurse for 27 years. Do I still need to take 90 hours of lactation-focused education?  
  21. I am a nurse. Does my basic nursing education program count for the lactation-focused education requirement? 
  22. I took an ethics course some time ago. How do I prove that I have successfully completed the course?  
  23. Do I need to get my clinical hours before I get my 90 hours of lactation-focused education? 
  24. How many clinical hours must I accumulate? 
  25. How long will it take me to get all of my clinical hours? 
  26. I’m a nurse, but there is no IBCLC in my hospital to “sign off” on the clinical hours that I have accumulated. How do I count my clinical hours? 
  27. I work in a neonatal intensive care unit, and most of the mothers I help don’t breastfeed at all—they pump their milk. Does that count for my clinical hours?  
  28. I am a postpartum doula. Will the hours that I spend helping my clients to breastfeed count towards my clinical hours? 
  29. I teach a prenatal breastfeeding class. Does that count for my clinical hours?  
  30. I am a nursery nurse, but I have not been working as a nurse for the past 12 years. Does my past experience count for my clinical hours? 
  31. I’m a nurse, and I volunteer to help mothers breastfeed at a local women’s shelter. Would that count towards my clinical hours?  
  32. I am a nurse in [name of country] but I haven’t passed the nurse licensure exam here in the United States. May I go Pathway 1?  
  33. I am a physician. How do I prove the number of clinical hours that I have spent with breastfeeding mothers?  
  34. I give a lot of help to my friends and neighbors who are breastfeeding. Does that count for my clinical hours?  
  35. I work in a retail store, and we rent pumps. Does that count for my clinical hours? 
  36. I do a lot of telephone counseling. Does that count for my clinical hours? 
  37. I work with a lot of prenatal clients, doing nutrition counseling and talking to them about the feeding decision for their baby. Does that count for my clinical hours? 
  38. I have two jobs, both working with breastfeeding mothers. Can I count both jobs towards my clinical hours, or only one? 
  39. My job responsibilities extend beyond just helping with breastfeeding. How do I count my clinical hours for exam eligibility?  
  40. I have been “shadowing” my friend who is an IBCLC for several months. Does that count for my clinical hours? 
  41. I am a La Leche League leader. Do I count individual hours I accumulate, or do I count by the year? 
  42. I might not be eligible right now. How many times a year is the IBLCE exam offered?   
  43. There is no IBCLC in my area who can mentor me. Does that matter? 
  44. I heard that if you have a mentor, you might need to pay the mentor. Is that true? 
  45. My IBCLC certification has lapsed. Do I need to start all over again, or just apply for the next IBLCE exam? 
  46. I have a disability. Will the IBLCE exam accommodate me?  
  47. I live in a very rural location. Where can I take the IBLCE exam?  
  48. I am still breastfeeding my child. Will I be able to take a break during the exam?  
  49. I’ve already earned a lactation credential, and taken a test. Will the IBLCE exam be pretty much like the test I’ve already taken?  
  50. I’ve completed all of my requirements, but I’m not sure I’m ready to take the exam. How can I figure that out?  

 You may have additional questions—if so, please comment below or reach out to me and my staff—but these are the most common ones I hear from people who think they may want to take the IBLCE exam.   

For official answers, see the “Candidate Information Guide” and other resources on IBLCE’s site. For an unofficial but easy-to-listen-to overview, visit my YouTube channel or sign up for my free LIVE webinar! (Yes, I try to answer everyone’s questions during each webinar.) 

How ready are you to take the IBLCE exam? 

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