Practice Tips... Practice Tools
Welcome to USLCA’s Practice-Building Toolbox for IBCLCs
This page is designed to help YOU, the member IBCLC, build the value of your practice, in any work setting. We would like it to be a helpful resource in which readers share ideas, learn from each other, and work together to spread the word that IBCLCs provide the best in professional lactation care. Please send your ideas and stories. We are a creative bunch…let’s pool that creative energy to promote our practice so that more mothers and babies will have access to our care.
Marketing the IBCLC Credential
There is a veritable alphabet soup of titles, labels, letters, and credentials describing various types of lactation support available to new mothers. The public, including mothers and babies, health care facilities and policy makers are understandably confused. All of the roles are valuable and it is essential to help families identify and access the right level of care at the right time. IBCLCs must clarify their role, helping others to distinguish between our credential and other certifications and titles. USLCA and ILCA both have tools to support you as you do this important work.
On USLCA’s Website:
IBCLCs Make the Difference
The International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is a member of the maternal-child healthcare team with specialized skills in breastfeeding care and management. The IBCLC credential is the highest certification and the only internationally recognized credential in the field of lactation. Research has shown improved breastfeeding outcomes when mothers and infants receive the services of IBCLCs. While many training courses provide certificates of completion, only the IBCLC credential denotes certification in lactation consultation.Read More
Licensure FAQ's for the IBCLCs
The US Lactation Consultant Association has received a number of inquiries regarding the necessity and value of securing licensure for the IBCLC. Since there is no process for national licensure, the licensing of health professionals is done by each state. The goal of licensure is to provide for public safety. USLCA’s Licensure and Reimbursement Committee is diligently working to secure licensure for the IBCLC in a number of states. Read More
Containing Health Care Costs Help In Plain Sight (2nd Edition)
Skyrocketing healthcare costs have resulted in a greater emphasis on disease prevention by healthcare professionals, government agencies, and health insurers. By providing immune protection and proper nutrition, breastfeeding remains a cost-effective intervention for disease prevention with an accompanying reduction in health care spending. Informed women are initiating breastfeeding at an increasing rate, from 26% in 1970 to 75% in 2007. However, many women struggle to maintain breastfeeding for as long as it is medically recommended and fail to achieve the intensity and duration of breastfeeding that they planned. This is often due to poor access to effective breastfeeding support within the medical system, false and misleading infant formula marketing, and societal barriers including: lack of paid maternity leave, unsupportive places of employment, and cultural discomfort with breastfeeding. Consequently, health care dollars are spent on treating diseases and conditions that could have been effectively prevented by breastfeeding. In order to appropriately address this preventative health care gap and the excessive costs that result, consumers, health care providers, insurers and employers need to be able to identify and access qualified lactation consultants to provide services and protect quality of care. Read More
IBCLC Staffing Statement
In Breastfeeding: A Guide For The Medical Profession, Lawrence and Lawrence describe a lactation consultant as a health care professional whose scope of practice is focused upon providing education and management to prevent and solve breastfeeding problems and to encourage a social environment that effectively supports the breastfeeding mother/infant dyad. This allied healthcare provider is also depicted as possessing the necessary skills, knowledge, and attitudes to facilitate breastfeeding.1 The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) has published Standards of Practice for Lactation Consultants. The International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is the only standardized, board-certified lactation credential available. Read More
Five Steps to Improving Job Security
Many IBCLCs have found themselves in the unfortunate position of experiencing a reduction in their hours, or under the threat of job elimination, due to hospital budget constraints. The United States Lactation Consultant Association (USLCA) recognizes this as a distressing situation that may have a significant impact and unintended consequences to couplets cared for in such institutions. This paper is designed to suggest potential strategies and practical steps for the IBCLC to utilize when their lactation consultant position or program is in jeopardy. Read More
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On ILCA’s website:
NEW! Position Paper on the Role and Impact of the IBCLC (English l Spanish l Croatian lJapanese)
Experience You Can Trust!
Distribute these downloadable flyers to promote the IBCLC to health care professionals, breastfeeding families, and others. They describe an IBCLC's scope of practice, settings where IBCLCs are found, the importance of IBCLCs to breastfeeding families, and how to find an IBCLC.
- What is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)
- How International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) Make a Difference
- You Can Count on an IBCLC!
On IBLCE’s Website
Why Hire an IBCLC?
Letter to the editor of Midwifery Today in response to Angelique Chelton’s article blurring the lines between lactation disciplines.
On many points, we are in agreement with Angelique Chelton’s recent articleabout building communities of lactation support. It is a sad fact that while breastfeeding initiation is on the rise, both exclusive breastfeeding and duration of breastfeeding fall far short of national and international goals. It is also true that the reasons for such poor statistics are complex, and that providing education, anticipatory guidance, technical assistance, and a warm culture of support will go far toward enabling women to meet their own personal breastfeeding goals. We whole-heartedly agree that improving breastfeeding rates will promote and protect the emotional and physical health of mothers and babies.
We applaud Chelton’s rallying cry for all flavors of health care providers and supportive volunteers to work together to create a nurturing network for new mothers. We each have an invaluable role to play. Working together, we can ensure that what each brings to the table makes the network of support seamless and cohesive. Where we must clarify, however, is in the assertion that “there is no hierarchy in professional lactation support.” If by “hierarchy” Chelton means that no one professional group is of greater value than another, we can agree; but if the meaning is that there are no differences in the professionals, there we must disagree. International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) are the only internationally certified lactation professionals. In order to become eligible to take the rigorous certifying examination, candidates must first be licensed health care professionals or take college level courses in subject areas such as counseling, child growth and development, and anatomy, and must also have documented hundreds of clinical hours working with mothers and babies. IBCLCs must work within a clearly defined scope of practice and there are professional practice standards to which they are accountable. In addition, they must re-certify every five years. This process of certification and re-certification is one of the most rigorous among health care professionals.
There is great value in the diversity of the various forms of breastfeeding support. Distinguishing between roles does not render any one role more valuable than another but rather allows mothers to access the right kind of care at the right time. One of the most important roles of all breastfeeding guides is to make sure that mothers receive the right level of care in each situation they face. We can and must all work together, building on our strengths and sharing our collective wisdom and knowledge, to create the culture of support that mothers and babies deserve. Our future depends on it.
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Making the Most of USLCA Press Releases
Each month, a press release designed to focus on a breastfeeding-related topic and how IBCLCs make the difference goes out to major media outlets as well as to you, the members of USLCA. Whether you work in private practice, in a hospital, or in another setting, you can use the press releases to build your own practice by submitting them to your local news outlets and hospital news editors, as well as sending them to referring physicians and health department representatives when as the topic fits. You can also tailor the text as needed for your own website or publications. All of these are inexpensive ways to spread the word about IBCLCs and your practice, as well as to build value in your community.
Putting Mothers to Work…for YOU!
Word of mouth advertising is the best source of referrals for the IBCLC. Breastfeeding is deeply personal---Mothers seeking breastfeeding help are far more likely to take the advice of a friend than they are to respond to an ad or list. So how do you make the most of “mother power” to build your practice? First, be the best IBCLC you can be. Read journals, such as USLCA’s Clinical Lactation. Network with other IBCLCs through your local chapter and online groups. Attend conferences whenever possible and keep learning new techniques to support your clients. Hone your communication skills, listening well, checking for understanding, making sure that you are supporting the family’s goal and not your own. Ask for feedback several weeks after your consultation. And ask for referrals!
Make it easy for mothers to refer to you. Leave several business cards or a magnet with your contact information and ask her to tell both her health care provider and her baby’s about her experience working with you …When you send your feedback letter after your consultation, give her several ways to share her positive experience such as sending a comment that you may post on your website and “liking” your practice facebook page*.
When you do receive referrals from one of your past clients, be sure to send a thank you. Protect your clients’ privacy by sharing no information about the consultation, but do say thanks for the referral and be sure to include a few more cards!
*You will want to separate your practice Facebook page from your personal page.
Social Media: An essential tool for the IBCLC
Kathleen Lopez’ article in Clinical Lactation March 2012 Marketing via the Web and Social Media
Building Value for Hospital-Based IBCLCs
In this uncertain economic climate, hospital administrators are looking for ways to cut cost without cutting quality. They are working hard to identify “non-essential” personnel. You know that what you do is important, but do those at the top know that? Most US hospitals gauge patient satisfaction by Press Ganey and HCAHPS reports. Unless your hospital customizes the questions, neither survey contains any questions about lactation services. Without representation in these patient surveys, IBCLC services can be invisible to administrators. Your job is to demonstrate the value you bring and USLCA can help.
Here are some strategies to increase visibility of IBCLC services in your hospital:
- Familiarize yourself with USLCA’s detailed publication Five Steps to Improving Job Security for the Hospital-Based IBCLC. This document is essential for all hospital-based IBCLCs.
- Leave your business hospital card with patients so they know who helped them with breastfeeding and can mention you both by name and title
- When patients ask how they can express their appreciation, be ready with the name and contact information of your superior. Make it easy for busy new parents to express their gratitude.
- Participate in hospital-wide committees and activities. Be sure that Lactation is a visible service area, working alongside nurses, dietitians, and therapists.
- Be sure the hospital benefits from your credential. Apply for the IBCLC Care Award and work with public affairs to publicize the accomplishment.
- Supporting breastfeeding is evidence-based and a quality of care issue. Ally yourself with the quality and safety team, as well as the evidence-based practice councils and committees. The Joint Commission’s Core Measures and mPINC scores are valuable tools. Position yourself as an indispensible team member as you work with other disciplines to bring practice into alignment with the evidence.
- Send press releases and news blurbs spotlighting IBCLCs and IBCLC services to your hospital newsletter on a regular basis. Write it on your calendar so you remember.
- Make Public Affairs your new best friend! Breastfeeding issues are frequently in the news. Contact your marketing or public affairs people when news hits so that they can contact local news outlets. Be ready for television or quotes for publication.
- Be sure to cultivate relationships with the nursing staff. Make working well together a high priority. Reward those making special efforts with notes of appreciation and cc their manager.
- Be the “expert” providing lactation education and clinical experiences for nurses.
- Always consider “what’s in it for them” in talking with others. How does your position help nursing? The hospital? The patient experience? The bottom line? Learn to speak the language of the discipline you are talking with.
- When budget season approaches, share the USLCA Staffing Statement with key decision-makers. Use the fact that AWHONN adopted the standards to your advantage.