by Elizabeth Kirts, MPH, ICCE, IBCLC, RLC
I wanted to teach childbirth for as long as I can remember. Growing up, our neighbor taught classes and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. In college, however, I was majoring in health promotion and education and was discouraged from looking further into teaching and hospital education in general. I was told that there weren’t many jobs and they weren’t stable. So I told everyone I was going to work at the health department all the while hoping I could make childbirth education work. When a job for an educator opened at a local hospital, I applied and prayed I’d get it. During the interview, the director asked me which program I would certify through. I had intended to go in a different direction, but I was immediately swayed to ICEA when I looked at the website. I was drawn by the words “freedom,” “decision,” “knowledge,” and “choice.” ICEA would be a philosophy and not a curriculum. That was very important to me as I personally had some unexpected outcomes with my previous pregnancies and births. I signed up in the fall of 2000.
I was drawn by the words “freedom,” “decision,” “knowledge,” and “choice.” ICEA would be a philosophy and not a curriculum.
I took my test at my first conference in 2002 in Denver. I loved the conference; I learned so much! Since then, I have attended every general conference except the one in 2004 in Maryland when I was 37 weeks pregnant and had a complete previa (flying or even leaving the general area was not recommended). Attending the conference is one of the greatest parts of being part of such an excellent organization. The networking, access to information, and energy at a large conference is amazing. It was at the conference that I also began to think about being on the board. I got brave enough to submit an abstract for the 2006 conference and was elated to not only be selected to present but also to be asked to present a second topic that was on my vitae. As with most people, public speaking used to terrify me. ICEA has given me the opportunity to overcome that fear and learn to love presenting. In 2014, I took the step to apply for the board. I had plenty of reservations. Was I smart enough? Did I know the right things? Would they not want me? I actually applied for a different position on the board, but when I was called by someone from the nominations committee and told that “Nancy Lantz really wants to get you involved on the board but would you consider Director of Public Policy,” I hesitated but then decided to go for it. Being on the board has helped me to grow professionally and connected me with people I may never have gotten to know otherwise. Why do I value ICEA? It remains the core values; Compassion, Collaboration, Choice. These three things drive my decision making in all aspects of my career. Since those early days, I took over the department and am now in charge of the classes for University of Utah Health. When I hire new educators, I give them the same three options for certification that I was given and to date, they have all chosen ICEA for their certification.
Why do I value ICEA? It remains the core values; Compassion, Collaboration, Choice. These three things drive my decision making in all aspects of my career.
The fact that ICEA remains a not for profit organization with the focus on certification and education is important to me. Additionally, ICEA has the strongest lactation component in the childbirth certification. In addition to being an ICCE, I am also and IBCLC- birth and breastfeeding are not mutually exclusive and ICEA understands this connection. Finally, I cannot leave out the international component. As a Master of Public Health, health is individual, local, community, state, national, and world health. They are all different and they are all important. Maternal and Child health is an area where more needs to be done. Women, children, and minorities still encounter health disparities. ICEA is one organization that is looking at maternal child health for all.