To be eligible for the IBCLC® exam, you must meet three requirements. I’ll assume you’ve already figured out how to meet the requirements for the clinical hours and 95 hours of lactation focused education. But some of you have told me you’ve had difficulty meeting IBLCE’s health sciences requirement, and it’s this requirement that I want to address here. (If you are a Recognized Health Professional, feel free to skip this post. You can submit a copy of your government-issued professional license or registration to prove you meet this requirement.) People who are qualifying through Pathway 3 seem to have the most difficulty with this.
As you probably already know, I am not an official representative of the IBLCE®. Rather, based on my experience teaching thousands of current IBCLCs, I’d like to give you a few of the best-kept secrets that will help you meet the requirements without breaking your budget or losing your mind.
What are the 14 topics?
Above all, meeting IBLCE’s health sciences requirement means completing coursework in a total of 14 subjects. Note that the IBLCE doesn’t use the term “category 1” or “category 2” but for clarity in this article, I will.
“Category 1” topics
For each of the eight subjects, which I refer to as “category 1,” exam candidates must: complete a minimum of one course, earn a passing grade, and those courses must be a minimum of one academic credit session (e.g. semester, trimester, quarter, etc.) in length at an accredited institution of higher learning.
These courses include: Biology, Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Infant and Child Growth and Development, Introduction to Clinical Research, Nutrition, Psychology or Counseling Skills or Communication, and Sociology or Cultural Sensitivity or Cultural Anthropology.
In addition to completing these courses, you’ll need to complete courses in what I refer to as “category 2” topics.
“Category 2” topics
Meeting IBLCE’s health sciences education requirement for each of the remaining six subjects — what I call the “category 2” topics — is a bit different. Exam candidates can complete courses from an institution of higher learning or from a continuing education provider.
Category 2 subjects include: Basic Life Support, Medical Documentation, Medical Terminology, Occupational Safety and Security for Health Professionals, Professional Ethics for Health Professionals, and Universal Safety Precautions and Infection Control. (We offer these courses — except for Basic Life Support, which you can complete through any local Red Cross or similar type of program.)
Different categories, different requirements
Meeting IBLCE’s health sciences requirement for length and source differ from one category to the other.
“Category 1” courses must be taken at “an accredited institution of higher learning,” and the courses must be a minimum of one academic credit session (e.g. semester, trimester, quarter, etc.) in length. You can “test out” of these courses, by completing CLEP (College Level Examination Program) or DSST exams for any of the subjects. (See “Easy and Hard Ways to Meet IBLCE’s Health Science Requirement” for more information.)
In contrast, “Category 2” courses can be taken at an institution of higher learning, or through a continuing education provider. Further, IBLCE does not specify an expected length for these six specific-topic courses.
There is no time limit for when any of the 14 courses must have been completed.
Online options for meeting IBLCE’s health science requirement
As noted above, we provides convenient online education options for all of the “category 2” topics, except Basic Life Support. You can pick up Basic Life Support with a CPR course at your local Red Cross, fire department; a Neonatal Pulmonary Resuscitation (NPR) course; or similar.
When looking online for “category 1” courses, be familiar with the Health Sciences Summary. This will ensure that you fulfill requirements and are prepared to show documentation.
You must earn credits or passing grades
You might be able to get all the required courses online for a small fee, or possibly for free. Above all, remember that you must be able to prove that you have earned a passing grade. (Many of the free courses do not offer credits or grades, therefore, think about this before you dive in.)
Points to remember for meeting IBLCE’s health sciences education requirement
- Meeting IBLCE’s health sciences education requirement for the first eight topics differs from the requirements for the last six topics.
- You might possibly be able to “test out” of these requirements. (I’ve met only a few people who have been successful doing that.)
- Free courses may or may not carry credits.
- You need to earn a passing grade for all of these.
- Finally, look for the sales!
Have you used any of the above-mentioned options for meeting the Health Sciences Education requirement? How did it go?