NICU nurse becoming a Lactation Consultant?

  1. Hi guys!
    I've been working in a level IV NICU since graduating in May, and we do a lot of breastfeeding education, something that has become important to me. We have lactation consultants in our unit, and I am very interested in becoming one eventually.

    I've looked over the requirements on the IBCLC's website and see that as a bachelor's prepared RN, I could follow pathway I to become a certified lactation consultant if I can get 1000 hours logged. Has anyone done this path? If so, how exactly do you log your hours? Also, does anyone have any recommendations for courses to take? I saw UC San Diego's certificate course... is this worth doing, or is it superfluous if I eventually become CLC anyway?

    Can I just approach a lactation consultant in my hospital and ask her if she can log my hours, or are there additional requirements in finding a "mentor," so to speak?

    Any other advice?

    Thank you so much!
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    About Mindylane

    Joined: Jan '11; Posts: 335; Likes: 118


  3. by   klone
    Hi there! I did that pathway, except when did it, the IBLCE required 4000 hours, not 1000. I got 3500 through being an active La Leche League Leader, and the other 500 I got on the job as an L&D/postpartum nurse. For those hours I got on the job, my nurse manager signed off for me - they don't have to be directly supervised or overseen by an IBCLC if you're doing that pathway and getting the hours as part of your role as an RN (at least, they didn't when I sat for the exam in 2007). When filling out the log, I did a best estimate. I figured, at 36 hours/week, I probably spent about 5 of those hours assisting with breastfeeding, plus I spent 6 hours/month teaching our breastfeeding class to expectant parents, so I made one entry "January-December - direct breastfeeding support - 260 hours" "January-December - breastfeeding education class to new parents - 60 hours" or something to that effect.

    As far as the lactation-specific education, I did all of mine through Health E-Learning's "Breast Ed" series. It's a series of 10 courses that you do online, and all 10 of them together totally fulfill the lactation education requirement. It probably took me just a few weeks to do all 10 courses.

    Good luck, let us know if you have other questions. There are a few of us here who are IBCLCs.
  4. by   BeccaznRN
    I am also a NICU nurse with IBCLC certification using Pathway I. A general rule of thumb to calculate hours spent assisting with breastfeeding is 10% of hours worked in L&D and NICU, 20% of hours worked in postpartum/mother-baby. Klone is correct by saying that these hours do not need to be directly supervised, but rather performed as your normal RN duties. Since a full-time NICU nurse would end up with about 936 hours over 5 years, I made up the rest of my hours by performing a PRN job in postpartum/mother-baby and (eventually) taking a job that was more in line with lactation assisting and teaching a monthly breastfeeding class.

    I obtained my hours through UCSD Extension, doing both the CLEC and LC education. With your background, you may be able to jump to the LC education (not sure of the school's requirements); however, I would HIGHLY recommend the CLEC over the CLC if you want an intermediate title before getting the IBCLC. Having some co-workers that took the week-long CLC course and based off of their experiences, I believe that I got more out of my CLEC course (and as an added bonus, I had my entire breastfeeding class curriculum in my hand at the completion of the class). Neither the CLEC or CLC will complete the entire IBCLC educational requirement though (currently 120 hours). Those hours can be obtained as the Health E-learning series that Klone was speaking of or the LC education that is available at UCSD Extension. There are probably more out there that meet the educational requirement, but just make sure that whatever education you decide to do will be recognized by IBLCE.

    Best of luck in pursuing the IBCLC. They are needed in the NICU setting!
  5. by   Mindylane
    Thank you both, so much, for your insight!

    It's funny, because just yesterday, I did SO much breastfeeding education with 3 of my families, and it was super exciting I guess I should start logging my hours now!

    I really appreciate your detailed replies. Thank you again.
  6. by   IrishIzCPNP
    I'm a former L&D RN and also an IBCLC. I did pathway 1 and had the IBCLCs at the hospital sign off on my hours. I used Lactation Education Resourced to get the ed hours. I had almost all that I needed but did the 90 hour ed course through them anyway. It was a nice course that you work on at your own pace.

    I would encourage you to avoid CLC. There are a lot of issues out there right now with Healthy Children (the people who created the CLC) and IBCLCs. There are accusations of HC instructors telling CLC students they are equal to or better than IBCLC, they are trying to work things out so that they are seen as equal to or better in the eyes of insurance companies. Their have a 4 1/2 day course with no hands on experience...not even close to the IBCLC requirements. As an IBCLC I wouldn't give HC a penny and encourage others to think carefully before giving them money. You are feeding what seems to be the enemy!!!!

    So yes...get your hours signed off at work by a manager or IBCLC.
  7. by   BeccaznRN
    I agree with Irish's comments about CLC. I know I'm biased because of my fabulous experience with UCSD Extension, but when I hear from coworkers that half of their CLC course consisted of lay breastfeeding mothers (with their children in tow) and they were made to sing a song before each day that was something to the tune of "when we consult...when we consult....never judge....never judge," it made me lose all professional respect for the CLC title. To claim that they are equal to or better than IBCLC is very disrespectful.
  8. by   Marymoomoo
    Couldn't agree more with the statements here.

    If you don't need an intermediate certificate, then I, too, would encourage taking the Health e-Learning Breast Ed series. You can get all your hours in on place. It covers the entire blueprint of the exam, which means you will be well prepared to sit the exam when you're ready. If you enroll in the entire course at one time, you get a year to complete it. Also, twice a year they have sales. If you buy the whole series, you get one of them free (save over $100). This happens in January and August, IIRC.
  9. by   Mindylane
    You guys are awesome. Thank you!

    I'm just wondering -- is there a form that I'll need to use to log my hours, or is this more of an informal log that I create on my own? I've been doing a lot of education and trying to be more active at work in assisting families with breastfeeding and want to make sure I'm accurately allocating what I am doing.

    Thank you all again!
  10. by   IrishIzCPNP
    I want to say they have something you can use. Look on the ibcle website! They have a packet somewhere.