Overview ~ Definition of Terms

The end-of-life doula certification process offered by Lifespan Doulas has been modeled after DONA International birth and postpartum doula certification. DONA International, established in 1992, is the oldest, largest and most prestigious professional doula training and certification organization in the world and has set the standard for doula scope of practice and evidence-based training.

What does “licensure” mean?

Licensure refers to the state of being able to legally practice or work in a profession. In the United States, licensure is governed on a state-by-state basis. Currently, licensure is not available, and therefore not required for end-of-life doulas to practice in any state.

What does “certification” mean?

There is no local, regional or federal authority or regulatory body that oversees the development of doula training and certification agencies. Certification is a voluntary process and is not required to practice as an end-of-life doula. Certification ensures that the person calling herself/himself a “doula” has:

  • Successfully completed a proscribed training program, including reading requirements;
  • Obtained hands-on experience in the field resulting in positive client evaluations;
  • Demonstrated competency regarding core knowledge and skills in their field;
  • Agreed to abide by the defined Scope of Practice;
  • Met continuing education requirements in order to stay current in the field over time; and
  • Renewed their certification periodically.

Benefits of Certification

  • Proof of having successfully completed a thorough training program and meeting professional standards
  • Enhanced listing in our online Doula Caregiver Directory
  • Ongoing mentoring support and membership in a community of end-of-life doulas
  • Participation in a monthly interactive instructional webinar
  • Ability to command higher fees than uncertified doulas
  • Plus all the benefits listed below for members

Certification Details

Credential Earned

After successful completion of the end-of-life doula certification process, doulas may use the letters CEOLD after their name.

Length of Certification

Certification applications will be processed within six weeks of submission. The certification period is three years, after which doulas must re-certify to maintain their status.

Cost of Certification

Certification Packet


The Certification Application Packet is required for certification. It comes as a PDF download and contains all of the forms and instructions needed to certify. The packet expires two years from date of purchase.

Certification Application Fee


The Certification Application Fee must be paid once you have completed all the requirements and the packet is submitted for review.



All certified LD doulas are required to maintain an active LDA Annual Membership. Read about Member Benefits.

End-of-Life Doula Certification Requirements

  • Complete the LD End-of-Life Doula Training Workshop (21 hours).
  • Purchase an LD certification packet (includes all instructions and required forms as well as access to the online final exam) ($25).
  • Complete the following requirements:
    • Complete required reading (Download PDF).
    • Take the online test OR earn the National End-of-life Doula Alliance (NEDA) Proficiency Badge.*
    • Develop an Intake Assessment Form for your practice and submit a copy.
    • Develop a list of end-of-life resources for your community.
    • Complete the Advance Care Planning process for yourself.
    • Provide services to three families as an end-of-life doula after completion of the doula training workshop and submit required documentation. OR, in place of serving three families, doulas may provide services two families and complete one of the following:
      • Become a hospice volunteer for at least six months, during which time you spend at least 10 hours with at least two families.
      • Shadow another end-of-life doula for a minimum of 10 hours.
      • Prepare a one-hour-long community presentation on end-of-life doulas or a related end-of-life topic and present it at two separate venues; presentation must include time for Q&A.
      • Complete an approved research project (submit your project to mrush@lifespandoulas.com for approval).
      • Take an approved college course related to end-of-life issues (submit class description to mrush@lifespandoulas.com for approval).
  • Letter of reference from two professional contacts.
  • Sign Agreement to Abide by the LD Scope of Practice.
  • Maintain active membership in LD ($50 annual fee).
  • Pay application processing fee ($150).
  • Submit all paperwork via email or U.S. mail to Lifespan Doulas.

*Please note: To take the NEDA Proficiency Assessment and earn the Badge, one must become a member of NEDA ($50) and pay the testing fee of $115. While we highly recommend this option, we recognize that it adds significantly to the cost of certification. Therefore, we do not require it.

The National End-of-Life Doula Alliance (NEDA) Proficiency Assessment: A Micro-Credential

In addition to becoming certified by Lifespan Doulas, end-of-life doulas (EOLDs) may also achieve the NEDA Proficiency Badge—a micro-credential—conferred by the National End-of-Life Doula Alliance (NEDA). Doulas and trainers from a variety of organizations developed the assessment and the core competencies on which it is based. To take the assessment and earn the Proficiency Badge, one must be a member of NEDA and agree to abide by the NEDA Scope of Practice for EOLDs. This micro-credential assesses knowledge only. Lifespan Doulas’ certification–“a macro-credential”–is a more comprehensive process that also assesses skills. Both assessments are optional for EOLDs at this time.

The NEDA Proficiency Assessment lends consistency to the definition of what an EOLD is and does, and provides a degree of assurance to organizations and families who use or refer to EOLDs. Those EOLDs who earn the Proficiency Badge receive confirmation that their knowledge level meets professional standards as developed by NEDA. Similarly, any healthcare organization (such as hospice or palliative care) or any family, can know that an EOLD with the badge has achieved these professional standards and has agreed to work within the NEDA Scope of Practice. This is especially important because there are many different training organizations, definitions and experience levels that result in confusion about the profession.

For example, some individual training organizations, ours included, offer certification that entails a robust, complete feedback process and assessment of learning, knowledge, skills and experience. Field experience, writing assignments, an exam and other assessments may be required before conferring certification. A meaningful credential usually requires active involvement in the field, continuing education and periodic renewal of the doula’s certification status. A less meaningful credential might be referred to as “certification for life” or one that is offered after simply attending a weekend workshop or completing an online training program.

The reason NEDA offers a micro-credential is that NEDA is not a training and certifying body and does not intend to assess experience level and skills; it assesses knowledge only. Because there are so many regional and stylistic differences in training programs and ways of being an EOLD, leaders in the field agreed on the need to self-regulate by setting national standards and a defined scope of practice. The NEDA process is not meant to replace any individual training program’s certification.

With an individual organization’s certification, doulas can be confident that their knowledge, skills and experience compare favorably to others who have achieved that organization’s certification only. Each organization’s certification can only be compared to itself. NEDA offers a quick and simple way to compare everyone.

The decision whether to professionalize one’s doula practice by pursuing credentials is up to each EOLD. It is a voluntary process and is not required in any state in order to practice as an EOLD. At this time, doulas can choose to: (1) pursue certification through their affiliated training organization; (2) earn the NEDA Proficiency Badge; (3) do both; or (4) do neither.

Re-Certification Requirements

  • Maintain continuous active membership in LD.
  • Provide services to a minimum of three individuals/families during the three-year certification period.
  • Continue to abide by the LD Scope of Practice for End-of-Life Doulas.
  • Complete 15 hours of approved continuing education relevant to end-of-life topics or skills.
  • Pay the re-certification application fee ($100).

When we send you proof of certification, we will also send along the instructions and forms required for re-certification.

Grievance Policy

Our grievance policy provides the means by which consumers or health care providers can allege misconduct on the part of an LD-certified doula. LD will investigate any complaints, in particular violations of our scope of practice and ethical business practices, and take appropriate follow-up action. To report a concern, contact support@lifespandoulas.com.

end-of-life doula certification