Birth Professionals

Choosing your program

MidwiferyEducationIs choosing a midwifery training program confusing?  It can be.

This is because when you select your training program you are really selecting up to three things: and educational degree, a competency certification, and a government issued license or registration.

The educational degree

You can find midwifery training programs around the world that will provide you with all levels of educational degrees, from no degree to a doctorate practice. This is important for two reasons.

First, some areas limit the practice of midwives to a minimum educational degree regardless of ability to pass a competency certification exam. If you select a program that does not meet the minimum requirements where you want to practice, you will not be able to practice legally.

Second, progressing in a career (even a career as a midwife) may mean obtaining additional education beyond your midwifery training. If you desire to progress to management, teaching, or research positions as a midwife, you may find the initial investment in an educational program that provides transferable credits (such as a baccalaureate level training course which can be used to apply to a master’s in health administration or education), may save you time later in your career.

The Competency Certification

A competency certification is a statement from an independent organization that you are safe to practice as a midwife.  It does not say you provide good care, or that you are the best midwife.  It simply shows that you have the minimum level of knowledge needed to be safe.

In midwifery, certification generally requires proof of a minimum level of education. For my certification, my midwifery school had to provide proof that I had successfully completed certain coursework and that I had been the lead midwife for a minimum number of births. The final step for most competency certification is a standardized test designed to ensure you understand how to provide care in normal and the most common abnormal situations.

After receiving certification, most organizations require re-certification after a designated period of time.  This is done to ensure you are staying up to date on research and still able to provide the minimum level of safe care. Re-certification may require proof of a certain number of births, proof of continuing education, or re-testing.

The Government Issued License

Once you have been certified as a competent midwife, most countries require you to register with the regional or national government as a provider of care. This allows a few things to happen.

First, it connects you to funding sources such as public insurance. Second, it provides potential employers an easily verified mechanism to ensure you will be competent as a midwife.  Third, it provides the government data on the total number of providers available as a step in ensuring adequate numbers of health care providers within each region.

What this means to you….

When evaluating the various educational opportunities available, you need to not only look what goes on within the program, but also what is available to you after completing the program.  In order for a program to be a good fit to you , it must provide a solid education AND meet your future needs in each of these three areas.

Jennifer Vanderlaan (Author)