December 2018
Important Updates to the IBCLC Certification
and Recertification Programme 

In 2018, IBLCE ® volunteers conducted a comprehensive review of the IBCLC ® certification and recertification programme requirements, as is best practise, and in July 2018 IBLCE provided stakeholders the opportunity for public comment on the possible updates. IBLCE carefully considered this feedback and will be implementing updates to the IBCLC certification and recertification programme over the next few years. Information follows regarding updates to the requirements, the rationale for the same and effective dates. The changes, which will be phased in as set forth below, are designed to streamline and enhance the IBCLC programme.

IBCLC Certification Eligibility Updates

  • Effective March 1, 2020, for those applying to sit the October 2020 examination and subsequent examination administrations, clinical hours earned through a specific organisation that is an IBLCE Recognised Breastfeeding Support Counsellor Organisation will be counted on an hour-per-hour basis, as the flat-rate hours will no longer be accepted. By making this change, IBLCE is updating its requirements to be in alignment with the changing nature, and increasing number, of organisations offering varying levels of volunteer opportunities.

  • Starting with examination applications for the April 2021 examination administration and those administrations following, in addition to 90 hours of lactation specific education, five (5) hours of education focused on communication skills will be required. Preferably, these five (5) hours will be directly related to lactation and breastfeeding care, but this is not a requirement. This change was recommended as communication is a key area in the IBCLC Detailed Content Outline and in practise as IBCLCs must understand the client and provide the most appropriate plan of care, engage in active listening and emotional support, and assist the client in making informed decisions.

IBCLC Recertification Updates

  • New for IBCLCs recertifying by CERPs, effective January 1, 2020, IBLCE will award two (2) CERPs for each full year of volunteer service, after this effective date, on the board of a non-governmental organisation that promotes and/or supports breastfeeding. A maximum of 10 L-CERPs can be earned in this manner during a five-year recertification cycle. Such leadership experience is important and will be recognised with CERPs.

  • For IBCLCs recertifying by either examination or CERPs in 2021 and moving forward, IBLCE will require 250 hours of practise (full or part-time) during the 5-year recertification cycle in lactation consulting in the area(s) of clinical practise, education, administration, research and/or advocacy. These hours may be earned as volunteer or paid hours, or a combination of both. Clinical skills are an important area of the IBCLC Detailed Content Outline and these skills are best maintained through active practise.

  • For IBCLCs recertifying by either examination or CERPs in 2021 and moving forward, IBLCE will require basic life support education in each five-year certification period. Examples of education that meet this are Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Neonatal Pulmonary Resuscitation (NPR). As healthcare professionals conducting in-person care, it is important to maintain basic life support education for the client and patient safety.

  • In 2021, IBLCE will introduce a Retired Status for active IBCLCs who intend to retire and no longer practise as an IBCLC. For a limited time, those who held the certification in good standing in the past will be able to apply for this status. Dates for these applications will be announced at a later time. Those who have achieved this status may use “IBCLC Retired” on a résumé, or below their name on a business card. However, it may not be listed directly following their name or signature (e.g., charting) as an active credential. The intention of this status is one of recognition and is for those who are no longer actively practising as an IBCLC and have no intention to return to practise.

  • In 2021, IBLCE will introduce an Inactive Status for currently active IBCLCs who are unable to meet recertification requirements in the year they are due to recertify, but intend to earn the certification again within one year. During Inactive Status, individuals do not actively hold the IBCLC credential. To regain the IBCLC certification, during the Inactive Status, individuals can either sit and pass the examination, without meeting the current eligibility requirements or recertify by CERPs (75 CERPs), which at that time will include the self-assessment (see below), plus complete an additional 15 CERPs. Should one not reapply for certification in the year of the Inactive Status, then one would need to sit and pass the examination, having had met the initial candidate eligibility requirements. Should an IBCLC choose not to enter into the Inactive Status and let their certification expire, then they would need to sit and pass the examination, meeting the initial candidate eligibility requirements.

  • Commencing with those recertifying in 2022, the IBCLC examination will remain an OPTION for recertification but will no longer be a REQUIREMENT, as a self-assessment and required focused continuing education will be an option in lieu of examination at each five-year recertification period. Self-assessments encourage self-reflection by allowing the certificant to identify strengths and weaknesses which then can direct continuing education. IBLCE is implementing this change only with the onset of the self-assessment and not before this is available.

Additional Updates

In rare situations when candidates or IBCLCs are not able sit an examination or apply for recertification by CERPs due to extraordinary circumstances, starting September 1, 2019 , IBLCE will define these extraordinary circumstances more specifically.  Extraordinary circumstances include only serious illness or severe injury of the candidate/certificant or immediate family member, death of an immediate family member, the occurrence of an unavoidable natural disaster, or changes related to active military duty. This will assist in clarifying specific circumstances for candidates and IBCLCs who wish to apply for an extension of certification or deferral of fees.

Please note that further details about these updates will be provided on IBLCE’s website when the Candidate Information Guide and Recertification Guide are updated in September 2019 for the 2020 IBCLC examinations.

IBLCE is pleased to share these program refinements designed to both provide greater flexibility and strengthen the IBCLC programme.
Changes to the Disciplinary Procedures for the Code of Professional Conduct for IBCLCs and the IBLCE Code of Professional Conduct Complaint Form
IBLCE’s Ethics & Discipline (E&D) Committee works hard to protect the credibility of the IBCLC credential and the welfare of breastfeeding families worldwide. The IBLCE E&D Committee is comprised of IBCLCs as well as public members. IBLCE encourages IBCLCs to uphold high standards of ethical behavior and the E&D Committee is charged with investigating and resolving alleged violations. The process is designed to be fair and balanced, both with respect to the responding IBCLCs as well as those stakeholders filing complaints.

IBLCE certificants are guided in their professional practise by the Code of Professional Conduct for IBCLCs (CPC) established by IBLCE. IBLCE’s Disciplinary Procedures set forth the process for stakeholders to bring complaints concerning certificants' conduct to IBLCE.

Below is an overview of the most important updates to IBLCE’s Disciplinary Procedures and complaint form.

Please carefully note that these procedures will go into effect for E & D complaints filed AFTER June 30, 2019.

Electronic Portal for Ethics & Disciplinary Complaints

IBLCE has implemented a secure file sharing service that will enable IBLCE stakeholders and IBLCE to easily and securely exchange documents with external users. Starting July 1, E&D complaints will be uploaded directly to IBLCE via the secure file sharing service on the IBLCE website. Whenever possible, communications regarding the disciplinary process will be through IBLCE’s secure web portal. Individuals involved in the disciplinary process may upload documents to IBLCE and download communications from IBLCE. This system will typically allow for more expeditious resolution of E&D matters given that paper mailing of E&D materials will not be required and instead such communications can take place via the online portal.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on the Ethics & Disciplinary Process

The GDPR is a privacy regulation which applies to those in the European Union as well as those in Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

Due to IBLCE’s global presence, IBLCE has revised the Disciplinary Procedures and Complaint form so as to incorporate the GDPR.

Complaint Form

Before submitting a complaint, IBLCE requests that individuals familiarise themselves with the Disciplinary Procedures, the Complaint Form and the CPC.

A few points to consider before filing a complaint:

  • Anonymous Complaints: IBLCE will only consider anonymous complaints that pertain to egregious conduct such as abuse or significant bodily harm.

  • Concise Summary: A brief summary including specific details and timeline of allegations with supporting documentation, if available, is to be provided.

  • Evidence: All available evidentiary documentation to support an allegation of a CPC violation should be submitted with the complaint form.
  • Firsthand knowledge: The individual submitting the complaint must have direct, firsthand knowledge of an IBCLC’s alleged CPC violation.

  • Frivolous: The disciplinary process is not applicable to disputes of a commercial or personal nature or differences in personal opinion (e.g. claims of defamation or disparagement on social media). Complaints that are submitted in bad faith (e.g., in retaliation) may be viewed as an abuse of process.

  • Signed Complaints: Complaints must be submitted and signed by an individual (e.g., not a business or entity).

  • Unethical conduct: The major component of the Complaint must rise to the level of unethical conduct under the CPC. Does the alleged misconduct affect the health, welfare and safety of the public?

  • Unreliable or Insufficient Information: Complaints determined to contain unreliable or insufficient information may not be actionable.

Sanctions may be imposed upon a certificant when it has been determined that the certificant has violated the CPC. Two additional possible sanctions have been added to the disciplinary procedures:
  • A sanction requiring submission of written assurance that the conduct in question has been terminated and will not recur.

  • A sanction mandating continuing education with respect to issues relevant to the CPC violation (e.g., continuing education related to ethics or the scope of practice).

The addition of these two sanctions provide additional options with respect to E & D determinations including mandating continuing education on issues of relevance when a violation has been found.

Ethics & Disciplinary Process
Article on the Benefits of the IBCLC in the
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

IBLCE is pleased to share this excellent article with you from the peer-reviewed Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics regarding the reasons Registered Dietitian Nutritionists should focus on breastfeeding and consider becoming an IBCLC! The article stresses that “breastfeeding is a global nutrition strategy with well-documented health benefits,” and includes a wealth of references regarding the benefits of breastfeeding for infant and maternal health, including reducing the incidence of infant mortality, as well as realising public health cost savings. The article outlines the pathways to, and benefits of, the IBCLC and encourages interested Registered Dietitian Nutritionists to consider obtaining the credential.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has graciously provided a link so that IBCLCs can access this article for their own personal use and at no cost to them. The link is functional for a period ending August 31, 2019. Thank you for noting this is for your own personal use and is not to be shared via the internet, social media or other online platforms. The Journal includes peer - reviewed  research in the science of  food nutrition, and dietetics .

IBLCE acknowledges with great appreciation the Academy making this important article available to IBCLCs worldwide via this briefing.
This briefing is being translated and will be disseminated in all examination languages in the immediate future.
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