How to become a UCSD Hearts & Hands Volunteer Doula

No prior experience is necessary but a very flexible schedule is needed, plus the emotional and physical stamina to attend long labors. We provide on-site training and continuing education for our doulas, in return for a minimum commitment of being on-call twice a month.

The average time our doulas stay at a birth is 12-14 hours, but it may be quite a bit shorter or considerably longer. Since a doula often needs to rest after a birth, she should only offer to volunteer when she doesn’t have other commitments near that time period. (We recommend that a doula has a 48-hour period of time available when she is on call.)

Steps to Becoming a Hearts & Hands Doula

The following are general guidelines for volunteering in our program.

Step 1: Attend our Introductory Doula Training. Classes are held at the UCSD Medical Center, Hillcrest. There is a small fee. Call the Doula Office at (619) 543-6269 to sign up.

Step 2: Contact UCSD Volunteer Services at (619) 543-6370. You must complete certain requirements (including a volunteer orientation, an interview, safety training, and TB skin tests) and obtain a volunteer badge before assisting at a birth as a UCSD volunteer. Some of the requirements must be updated annually.

Step 3: Attend a half-day tour/orientation with Hearts & Hands staff. The tour may be done prior to completing Volunteer Services’ requirements.

Step 4: Once you have attended our training and tour, finished the Volunteer Services Department requirements and received your ID badge, you are ready to sign up on the doula schedule with a mentor. Please call and/or email the Doula Office to get on the schedule.

Step 5: You will work with mentors for a few births until the Hearts & Hands staff, the mentor doulas, and you agree that you are ready to solo. The number of births attended before new doulas go solo will vary depending on each trainee’s prior experience, knowledge, and comfort level.

Step 6: Once you have completed your training and are ready to be a “solo” volunteer doula, you may sign up to the on-call schedule whenever you want. Congratulations! (Reminder: the minimum commitment to stay active in this program is two on-call shifts per month. We also highly recommend attendance at our monthly meetings and other educational workshops.)

Thank you for your interest in becoming
a UCSD Hearts & Hands Volunteer Doula
– Let us know how we can help!

Other Doula Training Options

Private-practice birth doulas and postpartum doulas are not healthcare professionals, nor are they registered or licensed in any way. However a variety of training options are available for women who want to work as independent doulas, and certification is available through several different organizations - (not needed to volunteer with Hearts & Hands).

For further doula training, we recommend or Both are national doula organizations offering training in San Diego.

University of California, San Diego Medical Center

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