Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My final LC class exam

Our LC class met for the last time the day before graduation. It was sad as such a big percentage of people were getting ready to leave. We'll be taking the exam in July spread out across the country.

While said real exam is coming up frighteningly quickly, we had to do a bit of a pro forma exam at the end of class to make it all official. We wrote it out by hand (ouch! I haven't done much sustained fast handwriting since middle school, and after just a page and a half my hand started to cramp) and then the professor asked us to type it up. I was looking it over today, and I thought I would post my answers here as a little piece of reflection on my LC training this past year:

Question #1: What is the most important things you learned as an LC candidate?

That you can't learn everything you need to know to be a great LC in one year - or maybe not even two or three - and that you don't need to become a great LC before you sit the exam. You have to keep asking questions and learning, and believing that you don't know everything!

Question #2: What are 3 very specific things you'll do as an LC based on your answer to #1?

1) Not to be afraid to admit when I have reached the end of my skills and need help
2) Have more experienced LCs on speed dial
3) Continue educating myself and observing with different people when possible

Question #3: Make up an exam question based on this learning
(Note: We were supposed to try to format the answers just like the LC exam: two wrong answers, one "distractor" that is almost right, and one correct answer. We all complained we could have written a much better question given more time! I'll reproduce my original response faithfully here anyway.)

You have been working with a mother and baby for several weeks attempting to improve the baby's sucking skills, but there has been little change despite using all the techniques you have learned. Your next step should be:
a) Counsel the mother that there is likely nothing that can be done to improve her baby's suck
b) Plan to attend a training on sucking skills
c) Refer the mother to another LC or other specialist with more advanced knowledge
d) Suggest to the mother that she switch to bottle feeding expressed milk and give her baby time to mature before attempting breastfeeding again

This really does reflect a very important piece that I learned this year. I had visions of emerging from training ready to independently help the premature baby with cleft lip and oral aversion whose mother has a low milk supply. And they would be successful, too! At times I got impatient with training: how was I going to learn all this advanced stuff if we didn't move faster? Now I appreciate better that few, if any, LCs are ready to tackle the most advanced stuff when they become certified - at least not independently. More than one LC whom I respect has told me that she became as skilled as she is by admitting when she didn't know what to do next, finding someone who did, and learning from them as they helped that mom.

Back when I did tae kwon do, everyone emphasized that getting your black belt wasn't the end of your training: it was like starting all over again. Well, I start working nights at the hospital this week doing lactation support, and I'm ready to start all over again! This is going to be (I hope) a whole new learning experience.