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For International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, education is ongoing. After passing their initial IBCLC examination, they must recertify every five years to maintain their accreditation. Supporting lactating parents is a highly specialized role, after all, and the field is constantly evolving. So if you’re an IBCLC invested in maintaining your certification, or if you’re a lactating parent who’s curious about IBCLCs’ continued training, read on.
The First Five Years
Five years after becoming an IBCLC—which entails a comprehensive study of Health Sciences Education, Lactation Specific Education, Lactation Specific Clinical Experience, and Adherence to the Code of Professional Conduct; completing at least 250 hours of clinical practice; undergoing basic life support education; and passing the IBCLC examination—IBCLCs need to recertify to ensure they have the most up-to-date knowledge when it comes to assisting lactating parents.
At the five year mark, there are two options for recertification. IBCLCs can, at this point, choose to recertify via Continuing Education Recognition Points (CERPS) or retake the examination. As of 2021, it is mandatory that IBCLCs take the examination every ten years, but this is changing in 2022 when a self-assessment along with required focused continuing education will become a replacement option for the exam. Check the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners website for those changes as they develop.
Choose 75 Hours of Continuing Education Coursework
While CERPS have generally been offered through in-person education opportunities, since COVID-19, the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners is now offering online lactation coursework as a safe, remote learning option. One CERP is equal to 60 minutes of education (50 hours of lactation-specific education, five hours of professional ethics education, and 20 hours of general IBCLC education). And before applying for recertification, IBCLCs need to have earned all 75 CERPS—which equates to 75 hours of continuing education.
…Or Choose Re-Examination
Alternatively, IBCLCs can sit for re-examination, the content outline of which can be found here. The test involves 175 multiple choice questions, and is generally taken in four hours. It’s worth noting that this test is thorough: IBCLCs need to be fully informed about everything from feeding behaviors at different ages to public health and advocacy for lactating parents and their babies.
IBCLCs in Action
Within each five year IBCLC recertification cycle, IBCLCs will also need to practice 250 hours of lactation consulting in the areas of administration, advocacy, clinical practice, education, or research. These hours can be paid, pro-bono, or a combination of both. Additionally, IBCLC recertification requirements now include basic life support education, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and neonatal resuscitation (NRP) so that they’re prepared to assist a client in case of emergency.
Clearly, becoming an IBCLC is a huge commitment—IBCLCs are the most dedicated people we know! So if you’re a lactating parent, rest assured that you and your baby are in expert hands. And if you’re an IBCLC, we have all the respect in the world for what you do. We’re always looking for IBCLCs to join our TLN community, and we’d love to get you involved.