Menu Close

Think Globally While Preparing for the IBLCE Exam

Colorful globe on desk

“Think globally!” I told an aspiring IBCLC recently. But her reply — “How do I shake this US mindset?!” — got me thinking! So how do you think globally while you begin preparing for the IBLCE Exam?

Think beyond the United States

For openers: It may be hard to set aside our US work experience, but the exam isn’t focused within our borders. It is not a test of American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations, or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in particular. After all, the IBLCE Exam is administered in about 80 countries worldwide. The recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) account for global health in a way that those of the AAP and CDC don’t. Remember: the IBLCE Exam is an international exam, so you must think globally.

Consider the category

When I think about the exam and look at the Detailed Content Outline, I think about the 7 major disciplines (topic categories) and the 11 chronological periods. But they all boil down to three other concerns. (The IBLCE doesn’t put it this way, but this is how I view it.) The exam considers topics about:

  • basic issues of who are we, what we do, what our role is, how we conduct ourselves as professionals (including professional development, etc.)
  • understanding and applying the hard and soft sciences
  • breastfeeding management.

It’s this third one, the management part, where you need to think globally versus having the “right” answers, domestically speaking.

Off the top of my head, I’d be inclined to say that in the “management” piece, I’d say the schism between domestic and international is greatest where it comes to INFECTION and NUTRITION. I could be wrong, but I think pretty much, those would be the two biggies.

Ask yourself, when considering an exam option, why would “this” be the right answer? Who says “this”? If you find yourself saying, “the AAP says this,” or “the CDC says this,” or “my hospital says this” or “some other US-based organization says this,” then you might be on the wrong track.

Examples of global concern

  • Breastfeeding and HIV: This is about management of breastfeeding and the impact of an infection. Is it appropriate to advise the mother to breastfeed? According to the AAP? No. But according to the WHO, breastfeeding is an option.
  • Vitamin D supplements for babies: This is about management of nutrition. Does the baby need Vitamin D supplementation? Yes, according to the AAP. The WHO currently has no mandate.

My guess would be that the IBLCE probably tries to avoid some of the dicey issues. The exam is primarily an entry-level exam. The IBLCE exam committee is not there to “trick” or “trap” people, and they cannot possibly know all of the ins and outs of health care practices in all of the countries.

The bottom line here is a return to my initial advice: “Think globally!” Ask yourself: “Am I basing my answer on some domestic directive?” If so, you may want to think some more.

Thinking globally isn’t just good advice as you’re beginning your IBLCE Exam prep, but it’s important even once you’ve obtained your certification.

How do you think globally when preparing for your IBLCE Exam?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Share this


  1. Karla

    How I think globally? I imagine myself being sent to work on a different continent. What parts of my “knowledge” would I be ready to stand for, anywhere, and be able to explain to anybody. The rest is not global knowledge.

    It helps if you have worked abroad, even for some time. It makes one humble… You immediately notice a hundred routines and “everybody knows this” that just are NOT so in where you came from. And of course it works the other way around, too.

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      I got a good chuckle out of the “everybody knows this”. So true! However, in answer to your question about how to think globally, and presuming you are studying for the IBLCE exam, a major key to thinking globally is knowing that the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (which is an international organization) says or does or recommends about a certain issue. Karla, thank you for the comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.