Scope of Practice vs. Code of Conduct

Posted on: October 4, 2023 | Doula, Doula Business

According to the American Medical Association,

Scope of practice

“Scope of practice refers to those activities that a person licensed to practice as a health professional is permitted to perform, which is increasingly determined by statutes enacted by state legislatures and by rules adopted by the appropriate licensing entity.”

Doulas are non-medical support people and historically are not held to licensure on the state level.

Many doula related concepts, as well as the associated language, were originally “borrowed” from the medical community. But with the rise of insurance coverage for doulas, one borrowed concept and the correlated language no longer makes sense:

The Doula’s Scope of Practice. 

With the rise of insurance coverage for doulas, and a deep dive on the part of ProDoula’s Research & Development Team, it is abundantly clear that our language must change. We are not medical professionals and as such, we can not use language associated with medical professionals to define our role.

As Medicaid coverage rolls out in states nationwide, licensure on the state level is also being discussed. It is at this level that the definition of a doula’s role is being determined. 

So where does this leave doulas and certification organizations? 

We intimately know the role that doulas plays and how certification organizations can set the standard for what doulas are and are not permitted to do. 

Enter the Doula’s Code of Conduct:

A code of conduct is a set of guidelines that defines an organization’s norms, responsibilities, and proper practices for their members. 

The Code of Conduct is essential on two levels. 

  1. It sets expectations and guidelines for doulas to follow in their practice. 
  2. It clearly defines that the doula is a non medical professional that is held to specific ethical and practical standards. 

It is time for us as an industry to take responsibility for ourselves by very specifically defining our role with language that is specific to doulas and does not infringe on, or confuse others. 

ProDoula is gearing up to make the necessary edits to existing references of Scope of Practice. We anxiously anticipate other doula certification organizations following suit in order to maintain separation between medical professionals and non-medical support professionals.