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IBLCE Exam Prep: Tips for Medication Questions
For those of us who are preparing for the IBLCE exam this September, especially those without a medical background, the medication questions can be particularly nerve-wracking. In this blog post, Angela Love-Zarenka, IBCLC, RLC shares tips for demystifying this part of the exam.
Start by understanding the categories of medications.
All medications can be organized into categories, such as antibiotics or anti-inflammatories. A good place to start - especially if you do not have a medical background - is to review an outline on those categories, known as classes. Learn which are the most commonly used during the time of pregnancy through weaning and familiarize yourself with those.
Identify the medications that are contraindicated for breastfeeding.
As you know from your lactation training, most medications are compatible with lactation, but some are absolutely contraindicated. Be sure you know which those are.
Learn the generics.
The exam will use generic names of medications. Be sure you are familiarizing yourself with, for example, sertraline (the generic name) and not Zoloft (the trade name).
Don’t forget vaccinations.
Learn which vaccinations are contraindicated in lactation and when. Remember, if a topic is on the exam blueprint, it may be on the exam!
Understand the why behind the guidelines.
When you are studying medication, try to not just memorize whether the medication is acceptable, but truly understand why. For example, if a mother is receiving heparin via IV, can she continue to breastfeed? The interesting thing about heparin is that it does not pass into breastmilk because the molecular weight is too big. (That is why she is receiving it via IV, not orally.) Knowing these nuances can help.
Feel Prepared to soar through your IBLCE Exam. LER offers two exam prep courses designed to help you study efficiently and effectively.
Enroll Now
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Angela Love-Zaranka has been involved in lactation education for many years, and has an insider’s take on the IBCLC exam: in the past, she helped write the exam for IBLCE. Here, she shares some thoughts about studying for some of the challenging parts of the exam, and how you can plan your studying now to avoid stress later! Check back at LER blog all month for more study tips.
Find and study images you don’t usually see in training
Start by making sure you are studying images you might not have seen in your training. If you are training in a community-based setting, search out hospital-based images, like a baby in the NICU. If you are hospital-based, you are more likely to be familiar with the early stages of the nursing relationship and could benefit from images of older nurslings. Not familiar with two year olds that breastfeed? A toddler latch does not look the same as a newborn latch!
Get creative with finding practice images
The Breastfeeding Atlas is a great place to start, and will be a great reference for your practice. Ask your colleagues who can connect you with images from their practices. It’s also very helpful being on social media, looking at pictures people are willing to share. Engage in the conversations people are having about those images, and practice your clinical thinking skills. The LER online Facebook group is a great place to find those images and discussions.
Plus of course there’s practice images in the LER exam prep course!
Spend extra time on “ages and stages” images
Many people struggle with the “ages and stages,” which require the test taker to identify a baby’s age based on a photo. It’s helpful to look at pictures of babies in general - scroll through Instagram feeds, flip through old photo albums. Look at pictures of babies, see what they are doing, and see how closely you can estimate the baby’s age. For example, if a baby is holding a cup, ask yourself: at what age do babies usually hold a cup? At what age would you see crawling, cruising, or walking? Then check your guess and see how close you got. The more you practice this one, the more confident you’ll get.
Be prepared for less-than-optimal photo quality
When you’re looking at the images on the test, sometimes the images are grainy or the lighting is poor. Don’t let it throw you off! Why the less-than-studio quality photos? Because it isn’t possible to plan a photoshoot for an image like “mastitis in a person with a dark complexion.” Instead, the exam relies on the lactation community to provide clinical photos, and we’re not professional photographers working in perfect conditions! That being said, the examiners have determined that a lactation consultant should be able to answer the question based on the image and the rest of the question.
You’ve got this!
Remember to think like a lactation consultant. If you hold other credentials or training, be sure to set that aside when answering exam questions. Focus on the training you received in clinical skills. Think back to the patients you’ve already worked with, and bring your best assessment of the situation. You are ready to step into this role - and we’re here to support you!
Angela Love-Zaranka, IBCLC, RLC, is LER’s Program Director. In the past, she has volunteered with IBLCE as a question writer for the IBCLC exam.
Feel Prepared to soar through your IBLCE Exam. LER offers two exam prep courses designed to help you study efficiently and effectively.
Enroll Now
Tagged in: IBLCE Exam Prep
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