Recently, on a group over within FaceBook, I participated in a discussion on the subject of “Credibility” within one of the many Doula communities.

How do we, as Doulas, measure our credibility, our accountability, our verification of credentials and that exams have been completed, assignments have been met, book reports, deep papers written, grades given and a certification issued. After all – even here on Madriella’s site we don’t have a searchable database of Certified Doulas via their ID numbers available for the general public’s use. (We used to – it got very little traffic, so in a site update we sunset it for other features, we do maintain a list of Professional Madriella Certified Doulas, but no big searchable database where you can look up their ID number anymore.)

So what measures do you use to measure the validity of someone’s credentials? How can you be sure that those tests were taken, awards were actually given, status achieved and maintained? How do you do it without creating more divisiveness, and keep it to straight facts, no using a fancy title to create distraction from a real verification of skills?

Well at Madriella – we’re using Credly.

Because their system interfaces into our database via something called an API; it accesses our student/graduates user accounts to connect and validate that all those requirements are met.

It’s an audit on the fly and it works for us. Credly is utilized by many recognized sources – universities, NYC Department of Education, the US State Department and even the Smithsonian Institution is using Credly… it’s real, recognized and I don’t know how much more valid you can get than the cited list above.

I would hope no one is knocking THEIR credibility and validity of credentials. There are no alternative facts here – just plain bald verifiable truths, no one saying they are good because their spouse says so, just plain truths. As it should be in our field.

Yes it is true, we could spend a lot more money on paying for someone to manually audit each and every assignment and verify that a certificate was earned. But I ask you this: if it can be done via automation, if those verifications and checks/balances are able to be done, in a manner that keeps tuition low and accessibility high – shouldn’t it be?

We’ve all seen the creeping cost of certifications. Madriella itself has two levels, first our Birth and Postpartum – no extras, no professional directory listing, nor business training, or the Professional Membership with all the bells and whistles set out in our recent social media graphic…

Our Approved Workshop Providers set their own fees for hands-on workshops – often charging 200 for a single day workshop, or 400 for a two day – depending on volume of material they teach. Depending on your learning mode – it may be very good to take one of those, but it’s not necessary to take a hands on workshop in order to be a Doula Certified by Madriella.

It all adds up – so when Madriella specifically offers online all the things you can see in that graphic on the right – and does it for $300.00 (not including textbooks – but if you’ve been to college you know your textbooks and your tuition are often separate entities) you have to ask how can they do it, how can the credentials be auditable, and verified for the families we serve? How the heck can this be done in a manner that allows me to look at my own budget and not have a breakdown because I really want to learn these things in a quality manner but can’t because my household expenses can’t allow for it…

Enter Credly.
Accredited academia has embraced this platform. Per Inside Higher Ed: “Digital badges aren’t replacing the bachelor’s degree any time soon. But a growing number of colleges are working with vendors to use badges as an add-on to degrees, to help students display skills and accomplishments that transcripts fail to capture.”

Employers want something that allows a quick view into the actual skill set of a potential hire, and demonstrated competencies.

Badges have been embraced by many Doula certifying bodies for a few years now… combining these for use for validation of a Doula’s certifications, as well as clearly delineating what skills they have and achievements they have been awarded with is something that only makes sense. In a field where we cut through red tape by being support without clinical tools and are meeting the needs of so many… this sort of validation not only makes strong economic sense, but intellectual and emotional sense. An affordable verification system, that lets us keep Madriella’s tuition affordable? Yes Please!

Use of Badging only helps us communicate stronger to our peers and our clients. A Doula Certification is not a College Degree, but Badges can serve a purpose in credentialing and don’t need to be considered a threat to the system. It doesn’t have us answering a body that doesn’t understand what a Doula is nor does it try to define who we are by someone else’s standards. Both are issues that are political hot-bodies these days within the birth-worker community in a larger view.

If you search the words “US Doula Accreditation” you get a program about certification for Community Based Doula Programs – and a bunch of Doula Certification organizations. You don’t find a central body to grant a unified Doula Certification Accreditation in the United States (where Madriella is based out of.)

I personally think it’s a good thing. I’d rather see that we use Credly to validate skill sets, certification validity and standing as a third party system, than someone who doesn’t know what a Doula is compared to a Midwife or a Home Health Aid.

As a Doula, I want that authentication that ‘yes, I really do know how to do what I do…’ as opposed to what someone unrelated thinks I should know what to do that potentially isn’t even within the five facets of care that a Madriella Doula knows inside and out. (Hey Graduates, you do remember those right 😉 )
When tasked with Madriella’s use of Credly, and implications given that the validation was flimsy I have to ask what is to be won by that. Madriella recently overhauled it’s curriculum… our previous students who’ve completed the new program will tell you it’s more comprehensive than ever before, and total strangers to this author have actually compared it to far higher priced certification programs that have been well known for academic vigilance and association with medical schools. It makes me very proud to be able to say we’ve adhered to our philosophy from the beginning. Madriella’s programs are affordable, because women need to be able to afford not only to learn to do this, but for it to be affordable to hire a doula.

There are many amazing Doula certification programs out there. When someone starts insulting one in particular, or even multiple programs simultaneously, that’s when it’s time to ask what’s the motivation and who profits from that divisiveness…

Madriella’s taken a stand before on “Divisiveness in the Industry,” and I am sure we will again – much like the undercurrent in this article – and again and again. Each organization works differently, and they serve a different stream of students. An ISU student may not be the same as an ASU, just like a Savannah Arts student may not fit well at Smith. It doesn’t negate the validity of these schools, just because they may have different philosophies and populations, doesn’t mean that they have nothing to offer, nor are the credibility of the degrees they offer in question. How they teach is uniquely theirs, and how Madriella teaches is ours… we don’t seek to bring down any other organization and are proud to say our Doulas carry that same philosophy.

By Annie Hill, Senior Advisory Board Member, Madriella
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serving the Metro East St. Louis Mo/Il area.