Models for Childbirth Educators: Teaching as a Hospital Employee {Part 1 of 4}

There are many ways you can teach childbirth classes, but before you get started, it is a good idea to consider your business model (where, how and when you will teach classes) in order to ensure the training, curriculum and decisions you make are in line with your end goals for teaching. This 4-part series explores some of the ways childbirth educators work and the advantages, disadvantages and other factors to consider.

Part 1: Teaching as a Hospital Employee

An educator is hired or contracted by a hospital for the purpose of teaching one or more types of childbirth or early parenting courses.

Certification and Requirements:

The hospital may have specific training and certification requirements for educators. Some also require nursing credentials. Working in a hospital may mean the educator is required to have flu shots or other immunizations, attend additional hospital training and follow hospital policies.

Resources and Curriculum:

The educator may be invited to give input, but ultimately the hospital (often the education coordinator or other staff) is in charge of finding or developing the curriculum and instructs the educator on what to teach. Supplies, student materials, and other resources are the responsibility of the hospital. This allows for uniformity in the classes and saves the educator time and energy. This arrangement is also financially beneficial to the educator but may limit what they can use for class instruction. Circumstances may vary depending on the size and structure of the hospital.


Teaching is usually done at the hospital, often in a room shared by other groups or used for other events, such as a conference room, community room, auditorium or multi-purpose room.


Again, the educator may be invited to make suggestions or requests for class schedules, but the final class schedule is established by the hospital. The educator may have more or less work than they would prefer. Hospital classes also tend to be shorter or more condensed than other courses.


Typically, the hospital does all marketing and student recruiting.


Often, students are referred to the classes by the care providers who deliver babies in that hospital. This is helpful to produce steady and predictable numbers in class, but may also result in a very wide range of students, with some who know virtually nothing about labor or birth to those who are very well self-educated already. This unpredictability may present challenges in presenting the information. Because classes may be large, the hospital educator may have less opportunity for personal interaction with students. It may be challenging to balance the needs of their students with the requirements of the hospital and the time constraints of the class.


Payment is exclusively through the hospital as an employee and is usually paid hourly, although may be salaried in some settings. The educator’s time includes time spent in class instruction and may or may not include time for setup and clean up (some hospitals have other people besides the instructor who do this). Because the educator is a paid employee, the number of people in class has no effect on income and it is a guaranteed and steady amount. Benefits are unlikely to be offered unless the position is full-time.


An educator teaching as a hospital employee should have expenses limited to mileage traveling to and from the hospital to teach.


Overall management is in the hands of the hospital. As an employee, the hospital educator must meet the requirements of the job or risk losing the job.


Limited by the hospital’s schedule and policies.


Generally provides stable, reliable and steady work.

In summary, hospital employees typically have large classes, work with diverse groups of individuals, have stable schedules, have limited latitude for change, receive a steady income and have few expenses.

Next up, read Part 2: Teaching as an Employee in a Non-Hospital Setting.

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  • Julie Olson - Plumtree Baby

    Great feedback, Teri! Thank you for making these important points. Teaching in a hospital can be a very rewarding experience (I love it, myself)!

  • Teri Shilling

    Thank you for looking at the various ways to be a childbirth educator.
    I currently work in two hospitals. (Over the years I have taught independently, for an OB office, for a community based organization, private classes and as a home visitor as an outreach educator.) One advantage I don’t see listed is that many hospitals will be able to make classes available for more people regardless of their ability to pay. I am happy that my classes are accessible to more people. Their medical card from the state offers a low partial reimbursement and the hospital can absorb the rest.
    The many hospitals I have worked at have NOT given me a set curriculum (just a suggested topic list); class sizes are not large; I can use my suitcase of innovative teaching props; I teach a six week series of 2.5 hours each night; and I feel I have a more effective voice for positive change as being part of the hospital team. For example when peanut balls were first being added as labor tools, I added them to my class and I had easy access to the labor/birth unit director and they simultaneously made them available on the unit. I have the ability to invite incredible resource people to my class – from an amazing PT that I learn something new every time she comes to a family doctor that addresses keeping your baby healthy to a Postpartum support group facilitator that pops in to invite people to join their group….
    I feel there is a negative stereotype about hospital classes and it’s not fair. There are great hospital classes and poor ones; great independent classes and poor ones; great agency classes and poor ones. Hopefully all educators will be able to find their home base to teach where they can reach families in this dynamic time.

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