Global Midwifery

Meeting the new midwives

The school of public health arranges a luncheon for all the dual degree candidates each fall.  It allows those of us from different programs to meet each other.  By far, the largest number of dual degree candidates is from the medical school (they have 26 this year), and most of them are in the epidemiology department.  But there are other candidates from the physician’s assistant school, business school, law school, last year I had a class with a dual degree from the school of theology and this year I meed a dual candidate from the physical therapy school. This year, there are 11 MSN/MPH candidates in residence in the school of public health.  Four of us are student midwives also in the department of global health.

I remembered last year when one of the second year MSN/MPHs told me the dual nurses are almost always global health or BSHE (short for behavioral sciences health education). She was right.  Of the eleven of us, one is BSHE, one is health policy and management, one is epidemiology and nine are global health.  Perhaps it is because nursing is so public health focused to begin with, the nurses tend not to feel the need for the public health school unless they want to become involved in international work.

The MSN/Global Health candidates I met have amazing international experiences already, before any of them step into their first global health class.  It brings me back to the question I frequently get about how a person becomes involved in global midwifery. Honestly, it isn’t the same for everyone.  In our small group of nurses we had international volunteers with MSF and peace core.  We also had military nurses and some involved in domestic care of under-served populations.  My point is, not one of these nurses was involved in the short-term medical missions most people expect to be able to do in midwifery. Global nursing, and global midwifery, is really more of a calling than a hobby.

While I’ll see these students around the public health school, I won’t see them in the nursing school…yet.  The program has just changed (quite wisely) to require the year of public health before beginning the nursing program.  So next week I’ll have the opportunity to meet the new group of first year midwifery students.  It is hard to believe that by the end of this semester half of my class will be finished, ready to take their certifying exam and practicing as midwives.  Honestly, it went so fast.

Jennifer Vanderlaan (Author)