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What 95 Hours of Lactation Education Really Means

White alarm clock in front of book with curved pages.

You’ve heard that old joke, “Who is buried in Grant’s tomb?” If you’ve never heard the joke before, you might 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 95-hour course?”  Let me clarify, please.

Does 95 hours of lactation education take 95 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 95 hours completing the assignments for a 95-hour lactation education course.

I’ve offered a 95-hour course for years. When I develop a course, I use a scientifically proven formula to calculate the time it takes 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 85 hours, some take around 100 hours. But the average remains around 95 hours. And let me be quick to say there are some who take 50 or 200 hours or something way far out there, but they are truly the outliers.

How do you get time to do those 95 hours?

For some, it might seem daunting to enroll in a 95-hour course. But remember, you’re not sitting down straight through!

The every day plan

1 hour a day, each day. Finish in about 3 months!

The weekend-only plan

 4 hours per day on both Saturday and Sunday. That’s 8 hours a week. Finish in about 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 95 hours?

A resounding NO to that!

Here’s what you do:

  • Complete all of 95 hours of lactation-specific education. That will take you about 95 hours.
  • Focus on completing the required 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. You could also dive into the optional assignments that we give in that same course.

When do I need to have my 95 hours of lactation education?

You must complete your 95 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 lactation specific education, candidates are also required to have 5 hours of communication. Note that this requirement is in addition to, not part of, the  90 hours. So really, look at it like 95 hours in total.

Does the 95 hours have to be taken all at once?

No. It’s your choice on how to complete the 95 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 the hodge-pod approach 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, spread out the costs by taking my comprehensive course unit by unit

Regardless of whether you buy my 95-hour 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 95 hours of lactation specific education prior to applying for the exam. Typically, the exam is offered about 3-4 months after the application deadline. Hence, you’ll 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 “what does the 95 hours actually mean” question is perhaps the most common!

How do you plan to complete your 95 hours? How are you laying out your course requirements? Tell me in the comments below!

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  1. Joan Thompson

    When I initially started your course, I diligently took notes and read carefully. Then I realized that was taking way too much time. So now I am reading all content and completing the assignments, as quickly as I am able. Once I complete the 95 hours and apply for the exam, I will purchase and work on your exam preparation course! Perfect! Thank you.

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Oh, Joan, I’m so glad I mentioned that! Truly, it’s a LOT of material, so just finish now, and master later! Also, I know people don’t really understand how to read objectives, but I’m urging you to carefully read the objective. I’m a nut about writing clear objectives, because it gives both the instructor and the learner so much FOCUS. So if the objective says, “List” that just means, be able to generate a list. If it says, “describe”, well, that’s harder than making a list — and sometimes I follow “describe” with “in terms of…”. If the objective says, “relate”, that means I’m expecting you to make the connection between one concept and another. That’s even harder! I am sooooo passionate about writing clear objectives, because clear objectives give me a way to write clear end-of-unit quiz questions. That’s a long-winded way of saying, when you read the objective, you should have a fairly good idea of how “deep” I expect you to go. Don’t overthink it. Don’t get lost in a sea of material. The objective will help you to focus on what, exactly, I want you to accomplish!

  2. Theresa

    Dear Marie,

    thank you for this information. I was wondering about it and how you make sure that the 95 hours are achieved. You mention the formula that the “American Nurses Credentialing Center, Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education™ (ACCME), and the American Pharmacists Association” recognize – but I don’t find anything about this formula online? Can you elaborate on this point?

    Thank you 🙂

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Here’s the short answer. It’s the Mergener formula, and I use this tool to make the calculation. Understand, there is some subjectivity in terms of the difficulty level, but after you’ve done this as many years as I have, you can hit it pretty close!

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