Choosing your program

Sep 15th, 2014 Education

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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.


Direct Entry Midwifery

Sep 12th, 2014 Education, Training

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MidwiferyEducationLast time we talked about the basics of nurse-midwifery.  Today we will talk about what it means to be a  direct entry midwife. Just like nurse-midwifery, direct entry midwifery is a term that holds many types of training and practice.

The term direct entry midwifery is a bit awkward, and probably only exists in the United States (I haven’t heard any non-US midwives use it). It seems to be a term used to differentiate between midwives who are trained first as a nurse from those who were not — you are either a nurse-midwife or a direct entry midwife.  In the rest of the world midwives seem to be all called “midwives.” If they are differentiated, it seems to be based on where or how they practice rather than how they were trained.  Continue reading


Nurse Midwifery

Sep 10th, 2014 Education, Training

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MidwiferyEducationAs we talk about midwifery education, I wanted to spend some time exploring different ways of categorizing midwives. I have had the opportunity to meet and work with midwives from around the world, and I am always amazed at how these categories do not always mean what I had been trained to think they mean.

The first case in point is nurse midwifery, a common midwifery training where I live in the United States.  My training as a midwife is as a nurse midwife.  The question is, what does it mean to be a nurse midwife? Continue reading


Midwifery Regulation

Sep 8th, 2014 Education, Training

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MidwiferyEducationLast week we looked at the International Confederation of Midwives Core Competencies for Midwives and the Educational Standards as documents to help you evaluate your midwifery training options.  Today we will look at the ICM Core Documents on Midwifery Regulation as the final triad to helping us understand the unique challenges of midwifery in your corner of the world.

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ICM Educational Standards

Sep 5th, 2014 Education

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MidwiferyEducationEarlier this week I introduced you to the ICM Core Competencies for Midwifery. Today I want to introduce you the the ICM Education Standards for Midwifery.

The educational standards document is a bit different from the core competencies document because it deals with a different aspect of the process of becoming a midwife. Specifically, it deals with the quality of the training program rather than the quality of the student.  Continue reading


What does a midwife need to know?

Sep 3rd, 2014 Education

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MidwiferyEducationHave you ever wondered who decides what you need to know to be a midwife? This is an important question, because the answer to this question helps define who is (and is not) a midwife. The answer to this question defines the difference between a nurse and a midwife, a doula and a midwife, or a physician and a midwife. The answer to this question explains why midwifery is a unique form of health care, and also the limits of a midwife.  Continue reading


Introduction to Midwifery Education

Sep 1st, 2014 Education

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In the United States, fall is the time families begin the transition to a new school year. I thought this would be a perfect time to begin a series on the ins and outs of midwifery education. Why talk about education?

You Have Options

The process of training to be a midwife varies around the world. This means you may have a variety of paths to choose from. Understanding what those options may be can help you make a wise decision from the beginning.

Your Education Matters

When selecting an educational program, it pays to understand what work you desire to do as a midwife. Choosing your educational path on something like the convenience of attending the training may limit the work you are able to do if you don’t take the time to thoroughly investigate what care you can legally provide in the area you want to work with the level of  training you will have. It may also backfire if the work you do cannot be transferred to future education.

Your Education is an Investment

To chose to become trained as a midwife means you must set aside money, time, energy, and other goals to become a competent provider of care. It is always disheartening to invest this much of one’s self only to discover the return on your investment wasn’t what you expected.

As we explore midwifery education this month we will talk about not only what that education should include, but also how to compare different educational programs.


Breastfeeding Month is Ending

Aug 28th, 2014 Breastfeeding

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World Breastfeeding LogoBreastfeeding month is coming to a close.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the multitude of resources I’ve shared over the past few weeks. To wrap up the series, today I will share links to resources of a different sort.  These links are just to make you feel good.

For example, The Breastfeeding Project keeps a gallery of extreme nursing photos.

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Breastfeeding and Medication Use

Aug 25th, 2014 Breastfeeding

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World Breastfeeding LogoSometimes a woman would really benefit from using a pharmaceutical — but she worries because she is breastfeeding. What is her friendly, neighborhood midwife to do?  Today’s breastfeeding list is a collection of tools to help you provide the best information to women who will use medications while breastfeeding.

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Breastfeeding Journals

Aug 22nd, 2014 Breastfeeding

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World Breastfeeding LogoToday’s list of breastfeeding links will take you to peer-reviewed journals.  If you want to stay up to date on the latest breastfeeding research, subscribe to the RSS Feed or email list for new publications.

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