Category Archives: Nurse midwives
Vernell DeWitty, PhD, RN, is the deputy program director for New Careers in Nursing, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
Every now and then a television program gets it right, and so it is with “Call the Midwife.” This BBC-produced program aired on PBS this fall, and will be back with a new episode in December. Set in London's very pre-revitalized East End during the late 1950s, and based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, the series chronicles the adventures of a group of midwives working at the Nonnatus House, a nursing convent named for the early cesarean-surviving patron saint of childbirth.
The series is blunt about the medical practices of the day and the state of birth control and female empowerment at the time. But the strange pull of this series is its humanity, not its horrors.
It is easy to think that women were always tended to during pregnancy, childbirth and delivery; however, this is not the case. We tend to forget the number of women who died in childbirth and the high rate of infant mortality due to lack of proper care not that many years ago.
But with the appearance of the nurse mid-wife, we realized significant decreases in maternal and infant mortality. Indeed, nurse midwives were the forerunners of the advanced practice nurse practitioners of today.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health has designated May 13 to May 19 as National Women’s Health Week. It is designed to bring together communities, businesses, government, health organizations and others to promote women’s health. The goal in 2012 is to empower women to make their health a top priority. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Human Capital Blog is launching an occasional series on women’s health in conjunction with the week. This post is by Elisa L. Patterson, MS, CNM, a fellow with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Nursing and Health Policy Collaborative at the University of New Mexico.
I have been a certified nurse-midwife for almost 19 years. It is an ingrained part of who I am. I have served women of many different ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds. Being a nurse-midwife embraces my duality of being a nurse and a midwife. I am very proud of these credentials.
As I add to my education in a PhD program – through the RWJF Nursing and Health Policy Collaborative at the University of New Mexico College of Nursing – I have found it a challenge to express in my “elevator speech” how these two credentials enhance my abilities to do policy work. I tried starting with what I am doing as a PhD student at the University of New Mexico. But when I say, “I’m also a nurse–midwife,” listeners seem to tag onto that singular piece of information and forget the rest of the conversation. Then, they might share their personal birth story or one that is a fond memory from a close friend. Or, they might ask me if I deliver babies at home.
I have not been able to figure out how to combine the important and, to me, impressive fact that while, yes, I am a nurse-midwife, I am also very capable of conversing about, researching and representing many other issues.
The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) has a way to help me and other nurse-midwives who face this dilemma. Next month at their annual gathering, a public relations campaign will be presented to the membership. It will include a vision, mission statement, and core values. The ultimate goal is to describe the value of nurse-midwives and, in general, support the provision of high-quality maternity care and women’s health services by Certified Nurse-Midwives.