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Ten Top Questions About Completing a 90-hour Lactation Course

Women in orange looking confused.

I said earlier this month that people seem especially confused this year about the eligibility requirements for the IBLCE® Exam. It’s a matter of days before individuals need to submit their application to take the IBLCE Exam, but we’re still getting questions at my office about completing a 90-hour lactation course.

As always, I’m going to say go to the primary source! Visit the IBLCE website for the official information. But some information just isn’t addressed, so  I’ll give you the unofficial answers to the questions I hear most often.

1. When do I need to have my 90 hours of lactation education done?

Ah yes! I cannot count how many times I’ve heard this question. You must complete ALL of your requirements — including completing a 90-hours of lactation education — before you apply for the exam. Not before you sit for the exam.

Be sure you get that straight!

2. How long will it take me to complete a 90-hour course?

Well, that would be about 90 hours! Undoubtedly, some people learn faster or slower than others, but you should assume it will take about 90 hours of your time.

We offered our old online course for about 6 years. We routinely asked course participants how long they spent doing our all-online course. We looked at what course participants say, and, sure enough, on average, it’s about 90 hours of time. We hope we’ve been as accurate in our timeline predictions for our new all-online course.   

3. Am I required to take a 90-hour lactation course?

Unfortunately, no. You can gradually accumulate your 90 hours of lactation-specific hours through what I call the hodge-podge approach. But I strongly recommend against it.

4. Do I really need to take a LEAARC-approved course? 

Unfortunately, no again.! The LEAARC approval confirms that the course has met certain criteria — most notably that the course covers 114 competencies — but the only requirement for the candidate is to complete 90 hours of lactation-specific education.

We do, however, offer a LEAARC-approved course in our live course. And because a course must be in existence for at least a year before it’s eligible for LEAARC approval, we cannot yet apply for LEAARC approval for our new all-online course. 

5. It’s been 8 years since I got my 90 hours of lactation-specific education. Does that “count”?

No, sorry. IBLCE is very clear in saying that you must acquire your 90 hours of lactation-focused education within 5 years of when you apply for the exam.

6. I’ve been a hospital nurse for 27 years. Do I still need 90 hours of lactation-focused education?  

Yes, I have heard that question, or a similar one, more than once!

I suspect that the person asking is confused between the clinical requirement, and the academic requirement. No matter how long you have been in the clinical area, you still need to have 90 hours of lactation-focused education.

7. I’m a nurse. Does my basic nursing education program count for the lactation-focused education requirement? 

That’s highly doubtful.

I’ve taught in three different university nursing programs. None had any time allocated to breastfeeding (or even feeding!) After much complaining, arguing, begging, pleading, and cajoling, I was finally allowed to give students a 45-minute lecture on breastfeeding.

Admittedly, that was a while ago, but I doubt that any nursing program has any substantial number of minutes earmarked for a lecture on breastfeeding.

8. I’m a nurse. How do I prove that I have successfully completed the course? 

From what I understand, IBLCE assumes that anyone who is a recognized healthcare professional has already taken the healthcare science courses.  

9. What’s the sequence? When should I complete my 90-hours?

IBLCE does not prescribe any particular sequence.

However, as I’ve said before, I think you’re doing yourself and everyone else a disservice by trying to provide sub-specialized clinical care when you haven’t had the didactic education. Hence, while I guess you can, I’d wonder, why would you want to?

10. Do I still have time to complete your 90-hour course before the deadline?

That depends on your circumstances, and how fast you learn. If you have no distractions, yes, I suppose you could do it. 

By now,, you would need to stay focused on completing an all-online 90-hour lactation course, rather than learning the material to earn your credits by May 29. Then, you’d need to go back and truly learn the material between that date and the date of your fall exam.

A better question is, if you buy a 90-hour all online course now, do you still have access to it before the fall application deadline? We offer 18 months to complete the course. And, if someone has an extenuating circumstance, we’ve been known to extend that for a few months.

Bottom line is that you need to have 90 hours of lactation-specific education prior to applying for the exam, and those 90 hours must have been in the 5 years prior to applying.

How are you getting your 90 hours of lactation-specific education? Are you already done with your 90 hours or are you planning on completing a 90-hour lactation course before the approaching deadline? Tell me in the comments below!

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