Regarding the vag exams in the ALACE training.... they are optional but I was told that the majority of the students do it because 'everyone else is doing it' kind of thing. Peer pressure. Also vag exams are not in the scope of practice of a doula. ALACE teaches a few things that are not in the scope of doula practice more in the line of midwifery assistant. You take what you need.
I was signed up to take ALACE but then became interested in becoming a hospital based doula and they required you to be trained through DONA. I loved the workshop and the trainer did not talk much at all about certification paperwork. She just said contact her with question (since she is one of the certifiers).
I'm currently working as a hospital based doula and it's great work so far. It definetly has its limitation vs a private doula but the program is ver cheep for the parents ($100) and they have the option to have prenatals if they choose. A pretty good deal. I've attended 9 births so far and everyone is so different!