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Apprenticeship

Oct 11th, 2011 Paths

I wanted to take a minute to share a frustration I have.  When my direct entry sisters criticize nurse midwifery because it does not follow the apprenticeship model, I’m not sure they understand how nurse-midwives are trained.

Nursing education is not like medical education.  There is classroom content, and there is clinical content, but these are not separated. You learn new things through reading and class, and then you go out and do them with your preceptor.  Sometimes things line up beautifully, and other times it doesn’t. When it doesn’t line up you may end up spending hours researching things you are doing in clinical before you get to them in class.

This is very similar to the apprenticeship system used by my CPM friends. Both systems provide the learner with opportunities for a new midwife to be trained by one midwife, or multiple midwives.  Both systems provide the learner with hands on learning.  Both systems expect the learner to be providing care long before they are proficient. Both systems provide the learner opportunities to learn about the interaction with families and how the presence of a midwife. Both systems usually expect the learner to be completing book learning at the same time.  The systems just use different titles.  Nursing calls the midwives who train you “preceptors,” but it doesn’t change the similarities to the direct entry apprenticeship.

All this to say, if you were thinking about a university nursing program but were turned off because you wanted an apprenticeship, you might want to look into the program again. You might be pleasantly surprised by what is possible–like apprenticing with midwives at a free-standing birth center or attending homebirths. Just pick a school close enough to midwives who offer these services and make sure it is a school where you can have a part in picking your clinical experiences.

 

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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