How to Compare Birth Doula Trainings
Historically, it used to be a really easy decision as to where to take your course and who take it with. There was one organization with a dozen working trainers in North America. One. Then there were two. As the internet erupted in the late 90s and the doulas started to make significant and noteworthy differences in how society viewed childbirth and motherhood, something changed in how we educate the modern day labour support person. Someone, somewhere was dissatisfied with what they were offered and thought they could do it better. Someone, somewhere recognized that there was money to be made. Today, in the United States and Canada, there are several dozen training organizations, associations and businesses offering workshops. They are not all the same. Assessing learning styles and individual needs will help you to find the group that is the best fit.
There are hundreds of websites to navigate through and a sea of information out there. Some say that their workshop is the most comprehensive with the most hours for education; some say that you can do the course online at home; some courses are two days, some are seven, some take weeks. Some have pre-requisites, some don’t. You get the idea.
The most important information is often overlooked in the eagerness of many doulas to get into a workshop as soon as possible.
Is this group a for-profit business, a not-for-profit business, a certifying body or an association?
This is more important than many people realize. There are many doulas who spend a great deal of money only to find out that their training is excellent for experience but not for recognition within certain government, health-based service programs.
Is there a certification program? How rigorous is it? What is the expected timeline?
If it seems easy and not too time consuming or not overly rigorous, I would wonder if I will gain enough knowledge and experience to support women well during this important time in their lives. There will always be situations that are new, it is the ability to adapt and handle them that you have to learn and that takes some time and a good deal of experiential learning.
Is there a governing body that oversees the trainers, the curriculum and the certification process?
Who are these people and how are they selected? Is there a Board of Directors? Are they self appointed or are elections held? Where did the curriculum come from? Is it evidence based? How was the certification process determined?
Is certification really that important?
Yes. Certification certainly lends credibility and mandates that you complete a certain number of continuing education hours. As a dedicated front line worker in the health care profession, ongoing education is necessary. Also, as the role of the doula evolves, third party payers and hospitals/birth centres will eventually require this from doulas working in their facilities. Could you imagine working as a doula for the next five years but having to retrain in order to gain certification?
Are more workshop hours better?
Not necessarily, it depends on you. Information overload is a real thing. Comprehensive workshops may give you a lot more course material and hands on practice time but how much is retained? There is something to be said for taking a shorter workshop and then continuing your education in small increments in order to make the best use of the information provided. However, depending upon where you live, and the availability and proximity of extra classes in the coming years, comprehensive may be the way to start.
Will training with this group give me the ability to purchase insurance, is the training organization recognized by third party payers?
The reality is that most of the new training organizations have not been around long enough to become “established” and thus recognized as having high quality, evidence based, consistent training with a governing body and a proven track record.
Is there any post course support? Is any assistance given in finding clients?
Some people are very ready to go out and take the world by storm. They have booked clients before their training and they take off running. Others, need a bit of guidance and direction. Some doulas are looking for mentorship. What do you anticipate needing and will that change or evolve over time and how is that supported?
Are there clear guidelines for birth professionals within this organization and who oversees this? What happens if the guidelines are not followed?
Plain and simple. Does the organization or business have a set Standard of Practice, Code of Ethics and a Grievance Policy that will protect clients and/or caregivers as well as the doula. How are these issues handled and by whom?
Can you find the name and credentials of the trainer/facilitator on their website?
When searching the dates and locations of workshops, you should easily find the information on the trainer. Name, credentials and perhaps references are more transparent than “contact us”. Once the search has been narrowed, please see the page “Finding the Right Trainer“.
Feel free to post any questions or comments below.