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What 90 Hours of Lactation Education Really Means

Alarm clock with book

You’ve heard that old joke, “Who is buried in Grant’s tomb?” If you’ve never heard the joke before, you overthink it, right? Well, same is true for a question that we’ve heard probably thousands of times in my office: “How long will it take me to complete my 90-hour course?”  Let me clarify, please.

Does 90 hours of lactation education take 90 hours?

Yes, it actually does!

It’s true that some are faster learners, or they read more quickly. But, the long and short of it is, you should expect to spend 90 hours completing the assignments for a 90-hour lactation education course.

I’ve offered a 90-hour course for years. When I develop a course, I use a scientifically-proven formula to calculate the time it takes to for the average learner to complete the assignments. This formula has been recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education™ (ACCME), and the American Pharmacists Association.

Furthermore, we routinely ask students to report the number of hours it takes them to complete the course. Some take around 80 hours, some take around 100 hours. But the average remains around 90 hours. And let me be quick to say there are some who take 40 or 200 hours or something way far out there, but they are truly the outliers.

How do you get time to do those all of those hours?

For some, it might seem daunting to enroll in a 90-hour course. But remember, you’re not sitting down straight through!

The every day plan

1 hour a day, each day. Finish within 3 months!

The weekend-only plan

 4 hours per day on both Saturday and Sunday. That’s 8 hours a week. Finish within 3 months!

That’s pretty manageable! Or, you can spread it out over several months as needed.

Do you need to learn it all in 90 hours?

A resounding NO to that!

Here’s what you do:

  • Complete all of 90 hours of lactation-specific education. That will take you about 90 hours.
  • Focus on completing the assignments, NOT mastering the content.
  • Apply for the exam once all of your requirements are met.
  • After you qualify for the exam, you still have several months to master the material you didn’t fully grasp when you completed the assignments.

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

You must complete your 90 hours before you apply for the exam. Those hours must be completed in the 5 years immediately prior to exam application.

In addition to the 90 hours of lactation education, candidates are also required to have 5 hours of Communication. Note that the new requirement is in addition to, not part of, the 90 hours. So really, look at it like 95 hours.

Does the 90 hours have to be taken all at once?

No. It’s your choice on how to complete the lactation-specific education hours.

While there is no rule about how to complete your hours, I strongly recommend a comprehensive lactation education course. Over the years I’ve seen many candidates struggle with a hodge-podge approach.

Not only does this method put you at risk for not being exposed to all of the necessary material, but it could cost you more time and money in the long run.

If paying for a course in one chunk isn’t an option for you, you can spread out the costs by taking my comprehensive course unit by unit

Regardless of whether you buy my Lactation Education Course in full or unit by unit, you can access the course up to 18 months after you purchase it.

Remember, you need to complete all requirements, including your lactation-specific education prior to applying for the exam. You will have time to review and really master the material before you sit for the exam.

Over the years, I’ve helped thousands of aspiring IBCLCs on their journey to certification. I get all sorts of questions about eligibility, the exam, and working as an IBCLC™. However, the “90 hours” question is perhaps the most common!

How do you plan to complete your lactation-specific education hours? How are you laying out your course requirements? Tell me in the comments below!

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