This is the question we get the most! Here is some information for those that are looking to get certified.
The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) is the official source for information on getting your International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) certificate. Although the majority of IBCLCs in Canada and the USA have an RN background, it is not required to certify. IBLCE (which is our certifying body) has 3 different pathways to look at when deciding how to go through the education and clinical requirements before sitting the exam. There are many IBCLCs who do not have a second registration as a health care professional. Some are social workers, some have degrees in arts, engineering, some are doctors, some are speech language pathologists, some are simply those who have been working with a Le Leche League or have gained their certified lactation educator status and wish to continue their education.
You will want visit the IBLCE website for registration information, exam requirements and for current information about becoming an IBCLC.
Recommended pages to visit on the IBLCE website:
You will need to take the lactation specific education courses (90hrs) and complete a clinical rotation. This can be the tricky part as you will do best with a mentor that you’ll need to find on your own. Perhaps you can shadow an IBCLC in your community? Perhaps you can find a private practice IBCLC to mentor you in the area? Our Find An IBCLC directory map on our website can be helpful in knowing who is in your area.
As the private practice landscape in lactation varies significantly from coast to coast, and the legislation requirements also vary, there is quite a bit of room for interpretation when it comes to any advice we might offer.
That said, there are some general points to consider. For one, when entering the private practice field, having an understanding of how to run a small business is important. There are many business courses that can be taken at small colleges and in smaller communities.
You can begin with a business name. This would involve a name search within your province registry. You’ll also likely want to register a website domain.
You’ll want to learn about insurance options before you open the doors to your practice. For those IBCLCs with no other healthcare background, liability insurance can look different than those with a license. For those with a license, you are required to insure to your highest scope of practice which means insurance as an RN for private practice if you are a registered nurse. You may already have this through your association. Contacting them and asking questions can be a good starting place.
Knowing (or learning) a financial management software can be a big benefit as well as figuring out how you want to take referrals, payments and provide receipts, etc.
You will want to research advertising options. How will you advertise and where? How much does it cost?
You will want to leverage your experience and understanding of your local environment (ie. a needs assessment) in order to provide targeted care?
Consider who your targeted market is and how you need to price your services to be competitive with others in your area.
One book that is helpful for IBCLCs in private practice is by Linda Smith “The Lactation Consultant in Private Practice: The ABCs of Getting Started”. Although this book is designed for the American market, there are still useful guidelines applicable to the Canadian landscape as well.
Visit the Provincial Association page to find out who to contact in your province.