wannabe lactation consultant

  1. I have a few questions about becoming a lactation consultant. I am not an RN yet, but planned to go to nursing school in the next few years. I have a 4-year degree and master's in another field, not healthcare-related. Does anyone know if it is a good idea or not to go straight to lactation consultant certification and not become an RN at all? I know it is possible, but is it wise, in terms of getting a job afterwards? Also, what kind of hours/schedule can I expect as a lact. consultant? Is it more of a M-F kind of job, as compared to nursing? Can anyone give me some idea about the salary I can expect? Any info about the profession is appreciated.
    Thanks!
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  2. 7 Comments

  3. by   mitchsmom
    I am employed as an RN in an LDRP unit but I'm an IBCLC also (labor delivery recovery postpartum - my hospital is smallish and doesn't yet have an IBCLC position). I'll try to answer your questions:

    Does anyone know if it is a good idea or not to go straight to lactation consultant certification and not become an RN at all?
    I know it is possible, but is it wise, in terms of getting a job afterwards?
    Most hospitals want RN-IBCLC's.

    Also, what kind of hours/schedule can I expect as a lact. consultant?
    Just depends on the job, but they are usually more daytime than shifts like regular nurses. Probably a lot of part-time positions as well. Check job listings here for some descriptions and requirements:
    Online Lactation Consultant job search sites & compensation info.

    Is it more of a M-F kind of job, as compared to nursing?
    see above; usually it's more daytime, especially if the hospital doesn't employ 24/7 IBCLC's... more people are awake for consults in the day (and weekends).

    Can anyone give me some idea about the salary I can expect?
    From what I know, an RN salary is usually the expected minimum, again see the ads. Some people get paid along the lines of CNS positions (clinical nurse specialists). See FAQ's here at the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA): ILCA - Frequently Asked Questions
    Here's the salary.com page, although I have not always found it to be accurate (in general, not necessarily for LC's):
    Average Lactation Consultant Salary.

    You can find more info at www.iblce.org also (I think they are working on the site at the moment, I can't get there but it's usually always up)
    Last edit by mitchsmom on Dec 1, '06
  4. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Great post, mitchsmom. Thanks!
  5. by   klone
    You need to decide what kind of setting in which you want to work. Do you see yourself doing private practice, or working in a clinic/hospital setting? I went to nursing school BECAUSE I wanted to be an IBCLC, and I figured the RN was the fastest way to reach that goal. Plus, I felt that I wanted to work in a hospital setting, and hospitals generally won't employ an IBCLC who isn't also an RN. So I got my RN, and I'm now an L&D nurse, and I'll be sitting for the IBCLC exam next July. Ironically, I will most likely go into private practice as an LC. How's that for funny! I will still continue to work as an L&D nurse, though, because I've discovered that it's a passion I didn't really know I had, and I'm good at it.
  6. by   BonnieSc
    Read the information from IBCLC if you haven't... they explain that almost all IBCLCs have some other healthcare function (usually nursing, but I don't think it specifies) to get all those hours. It's not really an entry-level thing. Here's a good place to start; there's a lot of good info on the website.

    Health Professional Requirements

    Of course, you don't have to be an IBCLC to work in lactation support.
  7. by   mitchsmom
    Quote from Wendy79
    Read the information from IBCLC if you haven't... they explain that almost all IBCLCs have some other healthcare function (usually nursing, but I don't think it specifies) to get all those hours. It's not really an entry-level thing.
    You are correct that it's not something that can be done quickly - it took me about 5 years to get the hours and the other requirements to sit the exam. That generally seems to be a minimum for the people that I know who have become IBCLC's.

    Many get their hours via nursing jobs; many also get their hours as volunteer breastfeeding counselors/bf support group leaders, peer counselors, WIC nutritionists/bf counselors, etc.

    As "klone" wrote (hi klone! ), you also have to think about what setting you'd like to eventually work in... if it's private practice then being an RN wouldn't really matter (although in retrospect I can now appreciate how it has broadened my knowledge and been a very valuable addition to my skills in helping nursing mothers). But, also remember that some small areas may not have a population base to make a private practice financially viable for one who needs a full-time equivalent income.
    Last edit by mitchsmom on Dec 2, '06
  8. by   mitchsmom
    Quote from SmilingBluEyes
    Great post, mitchsmom. Thanks!
    :Snow: :Santa3: :icon_hug:
  9. by   flytern
    We have 1 LC on staff, she is not an RN. She doesn't have the best relationship with the staff RNs. Not sure if this is because she isn't a nurse or because all she sees is the "boob-mouth" connection, can't see the whole pix of mom's physical/mental picture.
    We do have a few RNs now looking into becoming LC. It will take them about 2 years to obtain. No increase in pay for them, just self satisfaction.

    Hours for our LC: 7-3:30 M-T-Th-F, 3p-11p Wed. She does teach a breastfeeding class once a month, does alot of outpatient teaching for discharged moms. Desperately needed, since they see her for only about 5 minutes as inpatients.

    Good luck with whatever route you choose.
    :spin:

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