FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS about our end-of-life doula trainings
QUESTIONS? We have answers!
You do not need a medical background to become a doula. End-of-life doulas focus on providing emotional, informational and logistical support, as well as hands-on comfort measures for the dying and their loved ones. It is a strictly non-clinical role. That said, some of the folks who are drawn to doula training may very well be medical and hospice professionals, but it is not presumed that class participants are experts in this area. Some folks take end-of-life doula training because they want to be better prepared to help a family member or friend.
The end-of-life doula does not replace the care of the hospice team; she/he compliments it. As anyone who has had hospice care at home knows, the interdisciplinary hospice team of doctor, nurse, social worker, chaplain, aides and volunteers does their best to provide guidance and help to the patient and the family when someone is dying. But they are not there all the time. The doula, on the other hand, has time to be there, to stay for as long as the family desires, to connect with the whole family, and to companion them through the process.
The role of the end-of-life doula is a relatively new one. We are pioneers on the frontier. Educating the public about our role, getting the word out, is key. Since most doulas are self-employed, it is unlikely that you will be making a living wage soon after training as a doula. It takes years to build a business as any small business owner, in any field, can tell you. Thoughtful persistence is required. Lifespan Doulas offers guidance to help you vision, plan and grow your doula work into a sustainable business. In the end, your success will depend upon your overall skill set, work ethic and ability to get the word out about the value end-of-life doulas bring to the dying and their families.
No. End-of-life doulas are an unregulated profession in all 50 states and certification is completely voluntary. See End-of-Life Doula Certification for more information.
The short answer is “No” but there may be exceptions. Most practicing doulas are uncomfortable inviting an inexperienced doula whom they don’t know into their clients’ intimate experience. They may assume that to do so would be a violation of the client’s privacy. They might rightfully question the added value that the “shadow doula” brings from the client’s perspective. For this reason, it really isn’t done, though some doulas may feel comfortable incorporating an unpaid helper into their practices, particularly in instances of overwhelming client needs with little family help available. You can always ask, but be aware that agreeing to mentor someone is more work, not less, for the doula and there is little incentive for her to do so. I encourage new doulas to trust themselves and go ahead and jump in the deep end after training. If you are truly called to this work, you will find a way to bring comfort and support, even with the very first family served.