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What You Really Need to Know about CERPs

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As the deadline to apply for IBCLC™ recertification approaches, I’m often asked about CERPs. Recertifiers should understand what is required to avoid letting their certification lapse, so today I’ll break down what you need to know about CERPs.  

What is a CERP? 

CERP is an acronym that stands for Continuing Education Recognition Point. One CERP unit is 60 minutes of professional education as determined by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE®).

The IBLCE is a non-profit 501(c)(6) certification board governed by a Board of Directors. The IBLCE gives certification and re-certification only for practice as a lactation consultant. Hence, CERPs are specific to your IBLCE re-certification.

You may or may not be able to use CERPs to acquire or renew other certifications. For example, if you are certified as a doula, you should check and see if CERPs count towards that certification.

To the best my knowledge, CERPs do not “count” toward license renewals for those who hold a state-issued license and governed by a state Board. So, for example, if you are a registered nurse in a state that requires continuing education for a nursing license renewal, you’ll need to earn nursing credits for license renewal.

CERPs must absolutely not be confused with other types of continuing education credits. A CERP is not a contact hour or a CEU or a CME or a CPE or anything else. Hold on, I’ll cover that in a separate post.

Some continuing education programs or courses offer CERPs as well as other forms of continuing education recognition. For example, nearly all of the courses I offer carry CERPs and credits for nurses; a few carry credits for dietitians.  

Are there different types of CERPs?

Yes, there are three different types of CERPs.

  • L-CERPs are Lactation CERPs and deal specifically with topics about human lactation and breastfeeding.
  • E-CERPs are Ethics CERPs and deal with professional ethics and conduct.
  • R-CERPs address topics related to the practice of IBCLCs but are not specific to lactation or ethics. For example, you might earn R-CERPs for a course on infant growth and development, family dynamics, or postpartum depression. See IBLCE’s Recertification Guide for more detailed information.

How many CERPs do I need to recertify?

At this time, you need a total of 75 CERPs in order to recertify as an IBCLC.

Of the 75 CERPs, you are required to earn at least:

  • 50 L-CERPs
  • 5 E-CERPs
  • The remaining 20 can be L-, E-, or R-CERPs.

Here’s where it can be confusing for a lot of people. What you really need to know about CERPs is that R-CERPs are not required. They are simply an option. You won’t see many programs that offer R-CERPs, but don’t sweat it. I repeat, R-CERPs are optional.

Who needs CERPs?

It is important know that CERPs are intended for those who have already earned their IBCLC certification and will be recertifying.

IBCLCs must recertify every 5 years. Currently, you have the option to recertify by exam or by CERPs at your 5-year mark, but you must take the exam at the 10-year mark.

However, the requirements for IBCLC recertification will be changing substantially.

IBCLCs recertifying either by exam or CERPS in 2021 and going forward must accrue 250 hours of practice in lactation consulting. They must also have basic life support education in each 5-year recertification cycle.

As I have often warned, I am an independent educator. I don’t hear or read about IBLCE’s requirements any sooner than the general public would. What I’m telling you today could change tomorrow. Be sure to check IBLCE’s Recertification Guide for current full details on requirements.

Do I need to provide proof of completion?

You should keep certificates of participation in continuing education in case of audit. If you lost a certificate you for a course you have taken from me, no worries. You can easily download a replacement.

When do I need CERPs?

You need CERPs once you have committed to recertifying by CERPs. Pay close attention to the recertification cycle and the deadline on the IBLCE’s Certification Fees & Key Dates page.

It is important to know that CERPs earned prior to taking your exam do not count towards recertification.

See IBLCE’s FAQs for Recertification page for more information and examples.

Where can I get CERPs?

I offer CERPs in a variety of bundles from 15-CERPs, all the way up to the full 75-CERPs. I also have individual learning programs for those that need only a few CERPs.

The 2020 deadline to recertify by CERPs is approaching. Are you ready to recertify? Share how you’re progressing in the comments below!

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8 Comments

  1. Karla Loppi

    Thank you for this. The CERP system seems complicated and expensive to someone like me, from a country where registration and licence for a health care profession are for life, and it is obligatory for the employer to arrange continuing education. And in case someone returns to work after a long break, it is still the employers responsibility to make sure the employees skills are at needed level and knowledge up to date.

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Oh Karla, you’re not alone! Even here in the United States, my license as a registered nurse is “forever.” (And in my state, I have no mandatory education requirement to keep up my license.) There’s the other whole thing, too, which is, once you get these CERPs, can you do your job any better? Never mind the “knowledge”, I’m not talking about that! I can sit in a course all day long and I can learn some cool stuff! But can I do my job any better? Don’t get me going… I will say, though, that as a continuing education provider for the last 20+ years, I try very hard to build learning programs so that people can walk away not just “knowing” more, but being able to “do” better. I’m sure I’m not always successful at that. But I do my level best to make that happen! OK, down off my soap box now…Thanks for checking in, Karla. Good to “see” you again!

  2. Joann Parker

    Hello Marie, can you let me know what 5 E-Cerps you have available? I’m re-certifying & have all I need except for the 5 E-CERPs, do I just go online to your website to look or can you let me know in a post? My e-mail address is losangeleslady51@aol.com, thank you!

    Joann Parker RN, IBCLC

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Hi Joann, thank you for your patience. I don’t know how I missed your comment but indeed I did! I try to check every day, but for some odd reason I did not see your question until today. I’d suggest my newly-revised course, Ethical Aspects of Contemporary Lactation Practice. It’s not “difficult” but I’d say it’s more “mature” in that it covers material that’s not the “foundational” angle I feed to my newbies. You’ll find it on our sister site, Breastfeeding Outlook. You should be able to finish the program in a couple of evenings. Call us at 703-787-9894 or send email to info@breastfeedingoutlook.com if you have questions. We are on “abbreviated” but mostly normal hours, despite COVID, it’s just that we are not fully staffed so we might be a day or two getting back to you if you can’t reach us. Thank you for your inquiry.

  3. Andrea Denbow

    I am a RN and an IBCLC. If a nursing continuing education course is offered like Back to Sleep for Infants or Breastfeeding Hospital Initiative for Baby Friendly Hospital and the institution gives you credit for attending but the certificate says 1.2 contact hours approved by the Board of Nursing does the certificate have to say cerps or does this qualify for a R cerp.

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Andrea, I’m fairly sure I remember you from attending my live course! Nice to “see” you again. Okay, I think you’re asking two or possibly 3 different questions here.

      IBLCE recognizes CERPs. Those CERPs can be L-CERPs or E-CERPs or R-CERPs. But the term CERPs is specifically recognized by IBLCE. So if your Sleep course offered CERPs, it would likely be R CERPs. But it might not offer CERPs at all. It might offer contact hours (nurses) or CPEs (dietitians) or something else. So the question is, will IBLCE “accept” something that isn’t a CERP? I’m fairly sure they do, but I think you have to jump through some hoops to get your RN or RD credits “converted” and personally, I would not want to hassle or the uncertainty.

      I’d also point out that it’s not like you’re trying to “prove” lots of education. I wouldn’t want to take the chance on the 1.2 thing, because if they don’t recognize it, you could end up short. It might give you better peace of mind to take a quick course that offers about 1.2 CERPs and it’s marked as CERPs. I’m probably overly-careful, but man, you do NOT want to make a mistake here!

      You have so few credits to be…consider completing those hours online and rest easy. We have our popular packages and you can get bigger or smaller amounts of CERPs. But if you need only a few, like 1.2 or 4 or something, just scroll down on that same page until you see the one that says “individual”.

      I cannot find confirmation of a good answer to your question anywhere in the documentation from IBLCE. That means, do not take my word for this, one way or the other. I have heard of people who somehow did get CERP credit for something that is not a CERP, but I don’t know if that’s true, or if the rules have changed, or if I’m misunderstanding, or what. I’ve just spent several minutes on the IBLCE web site, and I can neither confirm or deny with certainty that you would get recognition for non-CERP education.

      The only thing I can tell you for sure is that if your certificate says “CERP” then it’s recognized, and you’re good. As a long-term provider, we have always been required to state what kind of CERP we are awarding (so we issue a certificate that says x number of L-CERPs, E-CERPs, or R-CERPs, and I would assume that your certificate, even if it’s from another provider, would also specify that if indeed it carries CERPs.

      Lemme know if this helps!

  4. Andrea Denbow

    Yes! Thank you for your time checking this out! I definitely will have more than needed than to be short! I will look at your individual cerps soon!

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