Becoming a FILCA: Part Two

In Becoming a FILCA: Part Two, Joy Heads shares her story.  Don’t miss Kathy Parkes reflecting on her designation as FILCA in Becoming a FILCA: Part One.


BOD Global Outreach 2011-2014

Joy Heads describes being a FILCA as, “It’s important to be a Fellow of ILCA, as  ‘Fellowship’ is defined by the Encarta World English Dictionary (1999) as ‘a member of a learned or scientific society’. Professional organizations created the Fellowship as a formal way of recognizing a colleague’s contribution to their chosen profession. ILCA, as a relatively new professional organization, achieved this developmental goal in 2007, when it established the Fellow of ILCA. This designation would suitably recognize significant professional achievements of the leaders and mentors in the field of lactation consultancy.

Many IBCLCs contribute to their profession, not only by being a member but also by working on the various committees ILCA and its affiliates have. This may be, for example, on an Affiliate Board or part of ILCA’s Conference committee. Mentoring, lecturing, being an ILCA liaison or slogging it out at the coalface are all ways of promoting the profession of IBCLCs and their professional body, ILCA.

I wanted to be a Fellow of ILCA, because being a Fellow of ILCA recognizes proven commitment to ILCA which I am proud to have as my professional organization. The fact that it is self-nominated and self-funded appealed to me. I felt that I would be making an extra contribution to ILCA and in addition, if successful, I would be able to enthusiastically promote ILCA as THE experts in Human Lactation.

Within Australia, as in other countries we ‘compete’ – if that is the right word – with midwives. It is often difficult to present the Lactation Consultant as having an extended role in the mother/baby relationship. You have to remind everyone that midwifery care only covers the postpartum period of about six weeks. (International Confederation of Midwives 2005) where as the IBCLC can care for women for as long as they are breastfeeding – which in many cases is well beyond the second year of life.

Being accepted as a Fellow of your professional association is an amazing honor. You have to meet independently-set criteria that you know is objective. It was a real challenge to fill in the application form. I have been an IBCLC and an ILCA member since 1986 so digging back into my files/my life to document it was very empowering and proved to me that I had made the right choices along the way.

Breastfeeding became my passion when feeding my twins. Involvement in the Australian Breastfeeding Association and the Australia Multiple Birth Association followed. Once back at work and starting university for the first time the choices of teaching topics, electives and assignments revolved around my expertise… breastfeeding. It didn’t take me long to figure out that the lecturers didn’t compare notes – so I could use a breastfeeding angle in every assignment.

My first job as a nurse educator was to teach the “Bottle Feeding Demonstration” to the student midwives….. …that soon was replaced.  Over time, my professional life serendipitously fell into place to enable me to meet the established criteria and achieve my FILCA designation in 2008. Along with my Order of Australia Medal and my Masters being a FILCA is one of the highlights of my professional life.

All eligible ILCA members are encouraged to submit their application to permit this wonderful recognition as a Fellow of ILCA (FILCA).   Any questions, contact the ILCA office


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