Let’s be clear that Randy Patterson isn’t getting rich being a doula. She is getting rich on the backs of doulas. This is an important distinction.
The hard working doulas that line Randy Patterson's pockets are trying to make her business directive fit with what is generally understood about the role of the doula. I imagine that they are afraid that the organizational violence will be turned on them as happened with this former ProDoula. In an article entitled “What About This One?” (Pyramid Scheme Alert) authored by consumer educator, Eric Scheibeler, there is a list of seven reasons why people don’t warn others about falling victim to MLM schemes. Among those reasons are shame, embarrassment and cutting losses. I'm sure that many, maybe even most, ProDoulas are honest, hard-working doulas that offer evidence-based care; but there's no skirting the fact that they are associated with a dangerous and unethical organization known for its organizational violence.
While I worry about unsuspecting doulas that are taken in by ProDoula tactics, I worry more about the consumer who doesn’t see this coming. While consumers are likely to be wary of someone hard selling them vitamins, spices or cookware, they might not be as savvy to the person calling herself a doula and aggressively “warm chatting” them. It’s unlikely that many consumers would understand the differences between an ethical doula and an unethical one in the first or even subsequent meetings, and therein lies more danger. These families don’t just wind up with a bunch of unwanted vitamins; they are victimized at one of the most vulnerable times of their lives. New parents may never really know what their birth experience might have been with a doula that they interviewed and chose without any pressure and with only their needs in mind. To make it worse, they likely aren’t able to warn others if they become aware of what they gave up because they’re exhausted new parents just trying to survive.
One of the hallmarks of classic MLM schemes is “paying to be trained to work for the company” according to the Pyramid Scheme Alert. ProDoula candidates are pressured to take multiple courses and to pay for private "business advice," which often is more about recommending the services of Randy's family members than it is anything of any real value. To anyone considering this type of "training," I say run for the hills. Better yet, find a doula training organization that offers good and affordable doula training based in evidence. While no doula organization is perfect, there are many good ones out there.
Build your reputation and business proactively and ethically. Get involved in leadership in your community of doulas; share information and support one another; diversify your skill set; seek certification; and network with your community stakeholders, care providers and families.