Can you be a Lactation Consultant but not RN?

  1. I have been trying to contact at least 5 area hospitals asking if I can start volunteering as a Breastfeeding Counselor so that I can collect my 2,000 hours needed to become an IBCLC. Does you facility employ lay IBCLC's or are they all RNs? I'm willing to take the specialized courses and do the time for volunteering, but I am getting no answers back from these hospitals! Please help! I've decided this is what I want to do, but if I can't get in a hospital as a volunteer, I will try for my Child Life Specialist Certification instead...

    Rhonda
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  2. 15 Comments

  3. by   SuesquatchRN
    I can't speak specifically to what you are asking, BUT: even LPN's are not permitted to initiate teaching. That is a function reserved pretty much for RN's. We can reinforce only.

    What's an IBCLC?
  4. by   philosophical
    Quote from Suesquatch
    I can't speak specifically to what you are asking, BUT: even LPN's are not permitted to initiate teaching. That is a function reserved pretty much for RN's. We can reinforce only.

    What's an IBCLC?
    IBCLC is International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. You have to meet certain educational requirements, complete a prescribed amount of experience depending on education and pass a board exam. They are allowed to teach, help diagnose and assist breastfeeding women. They can work in hospitals, for WIC, for LLL, clinics, etc. I know many RNs have this designation, so I'm afraid I will never be able to compete!
  5. by   MIA-RN
    YOu might not be able to be IBCLC certified but you can contact your local WIC program if there is one in your area (not sure if its federal or state program). They have 'peer counselors' who help. Also you can call your local La Leche league. THey will help you get info and you might be able to help people thru their program.
  6. by   AmericanChai
    Yes you can be! :-)

    If you need hours, you might try contacting a doula service and seeing if you can do some postpartum doula work as a volunteer with a certified doula, which would include breastfeeding support.
  7. by   MBARNBSN
    Quote from philosophical
    They can work in hospitals, for WIC, for LLL, clinics, etc. I know many RNs have this designation, so I'm afraid I will never be able to compete!
    Well, I almost got my certification as a non-nurse so I know that it is possible (I did not complete my hours because I ran off to nursing school and left my former employers). As far as being able to compete, I think you are correct at least in big areas and hospitals that have access to many RNs with the designation. On the other hand, smaller towns, small counties, small cities, small privately owned businesses, small hospitals etc. may hire someone with your credentials despite not being a nurse. Many small places have a need for a lactation consultant but they do not have the option to hire an RN with the designation. Thus, I suggest that you get to know your market and find out where you fit. GL. :spin:
  8. by   ebear
    Philosophical,
    Are you putting this on your list of careers to explore? Have you figured out yet what you want to do for sure? GaaLee!
    Last edit by ebear on Nov 15, '07
  9. by   purple1953reading
    Here our lactation consu. is a young first time mom, just gave birth to second baby. She is not an RN> I know that many people get their pumps from county health dept. Why not contact yours, and see if they are interested. T
  10. by   dilleweed
    Quote from MIA-RN
    YOu might not be able to be IBCLC certified but you can contact your local WIC program if there is one in your area (not sure if its federal or state program). They have 'peer counselors' who help. Also you can call your local La Leche league. THey will help you get info and you might be able to help people thru their program.
    LLL frowns on people becoming leaders in order to get hours for the IBCLC, or so I was told by my local chapter. I opted not to become a leader, but for other reasons.
  11. by   philosophical
    Quote from ebear
    Philosophical,
    Are you putting this on your list of careers to explore? Have you figured out yet what you want to do for sure? GaaLee!

    Yes, I decided I want to become a Lactation Consultant. If that fails, a Child Life Specialist, and if THAT doesn't happen, I'll go back for my Master's in Counseling Whew!
  12. by   SuesquatchRN
    Quote from philosophical
    Yes, I decided I want to become a Lactation Consultant. If that fails, a Child Life Specialist, and if THAT doesn't happen, I'll go back for my Master's in Counseling Whew!
    You're young and you have a plan.

    Sweet!

  13. by   philosophical
    Quote from Suesquatch
    You're young and you have a plan.

    Sweet!


    Haha, thanks Sue
  14. by   mitchsmom
    Quote from philosophical
    I have been trying to contact at least 5 area hospitals asking if I can start volunteering as a Breastfeeding Counselor so that I can collect my 2,000 hours needed to become an IBCLC. Does you facility employ lay IBCLC's or are they all RNs? I'm willing to take the specialized courses and do the time for volunteering, but I am getting no answers back from these hospitals! Please help! I've decided this is what I want to do, but if I can't get in a hospital as a volunteer, I will try for my Child Life Specialist Certification instead...

    Rhonda

    Hi Rhonda,
    I'm an IBCLC, maybe I can help a little bit. I got my IBCLC hours through being a lay breastfeeding group leader. (I also started nursing school during that time, but became an IBCLC before I finished nursing school - I am now working as an L&D nurse - the community hospital I work at does not employ any IBCLC's, neither in my small town do).

    Most, if not all, of the people that I know got their hours through volunteering as a group leader, being a peer counselor (like someone mentioned, WIC often uses peer counselors), or through being a nurse in labor/delivery/postpartum.

    The thing about volunteering at the hospital, is that they are probably going to be reluctant to allow this if you have no formal training/certification to qualify you to give patient care. They may possibly allow a mentor-mentee type of training relationship if you are being directly supervised by an IBCLC who is employed there. Even that may be questionable because it is patient care and they may question the liability issue. Group leaders, nurses, IBCLC's and peer counselors are usually covered either by their facility or governing organization with liability insurance, &/or covered by their own insurance. For that reason, I'd imagine that it may be hard to accumulate your volunteer hours in a hospital setting without being a mother/baby nurse. Not to mention that it would take an awful lot of time volunteering at the hospital for someone not even employed there/getting paid for it (it takes most people at least 5 years to accumulate the hours needed to sit the exam, as you probably already know).

    However, I know that you can use supplementary pathway H to reduce your total amount of hours needed for the IBCLC certification/board exam and that would utilize something of the hospital volunteer sort. For this, and to find out for sure about volunteering anyway, I would keep at trying to contact the hospital's IBCLC's directly. I would think that you should be able to get through to one by just asking for a lactation consultant, as they should be used to getting a lot of phone calls for help from nursing women who have been discharged. If you are able, go in person to the lactation centers.

    Most (not absolutely all but by far most) hospital IBCLC's that I know are nurses. Hospitals do tend to want that. As an IBCLC in private practice this wouldn't be an issue. But you may not be able to make much/enough money in private practice depending on where you live (what demand there is for a private practice IBCLC), what your overhead is, what reimbursement you may be able to get, (do most of your prospective clientele have private insurance, wealthy or poor area, medicaid, self-pay). etc. Will this be something you will want to do part-time, full-time, need a full income, how much, supplemental income, etc.??? Things to think about/ check in to. Again, those local IBCLC's would probably have a lot of insight for you.

    I would also contact the IBLCE directly with all your questions. You can call at 703-560-7330. They were very helpful when I had questions. Plus it's always best to get it from the horse's mouth anyway. Tell them your situation and ask how you may best accumulate your hours, what suggestions and ideas they have. They can also send you a good information packet if you haven't already gotten it!

    Best wishes - email me if you'd like,
    mm

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