Guess today is Catch-up From Chicago day. In addition to the very long post on the ACNM, MANA and CMs which I just posted below, I also wanted to “unofficially” post the 2007 ACNM Student Report, which I helped to draft at the annual meeting this year with approximately 20 other student representatives from around the country. This report is drafted annually by the student reps to summarize and present student concerns to the ACNM as a whole, and is published every year in the Quickening, the ACNM newsletter. As you might surmise from my post below, the issue I was most concerned about was the representation of CMs, which translated into joining the committee that was drafting the paragraph on Professional Issues, i.e. the newly proposed DNP and how this will affect midwifery education. I’m putting this behind a cut, because again, it’s a very long document and I’m not sure how many people are really interested in reading this in its entirety, but I have been wanting to post this up here since the convention for posterity, more than anything else. So, here you go:
ACNM 2007 Annual Meeting
Greetings from the student midwives to the board members, fellows and all attendees of the 52nd annual meeting of the American College of Nurse Midwives here in Chicago. Twenty–two representatives from midwifery programs around the country and Puerto Rico met together to discuss points of concern and share experiences. Our meetings were filled with energetic, articulate women of diverse backgrounds motivated to tackle the challenges facing us today and in the future of our profession.
We wish to express our thanks and appreciation to the College and all its members for the continued support of midwifery education in the areas of professional guidance, preceptorship, scholarship, and friendship. We especially want to recognize the hours of effort invested by those midwives who have selflessly volunteered their time of to serve as preceptors to midwifery students, and ask that they stand and be recognized.
We acknowledge the college’s recognition of and efforts to respond to the concerns expressed by last year’s student representatives, as evidenced by the addition of the student identification badge ribbons, the student section in the general conference program, the first-timers meeting, and the warm and welcoming attitude we have encountered by many members. However, we continue to be concerned about issues related to publicity and marketing, policy, professional issues, diversity, and communication.
With regards to publicity and marketing, an area of concern to us as students is the public’s widespread misconceptions regarding the existence, competence and scope of practice of nurse-midwives. We consider it important in maintaining and promoting our collective profession to address this problem via educational publicity and marketing campaigns. Though we recognize that ACNM already holds this as a priority, areas that may benefit from increased resource allocation include:
• Partnering with major corporations similar to the Johnson & Johnson® campaign to address the nursing shortage.
• Employment of a marketing strategist or consultant to meet the aforementioned goals.
• Proliferation of midwifery related content on websites, magazines or other media sources related to women’s health.
• Facilitating placement of nurse-midwives as spokespersons at media outlets.
• Creating a long-term plan for a general audience media saturation campaign
• Specifically target women’s health, labor and delivery and neonatal nurses with positive midwifery images and information to facilitate amicable professional relationships and potential recruitment.
Advocacy and politics are in the forefront of the minds of midwifery students. We celebrate the growth of our midwifery profession, but are sobered by the under representation of midwives in certain regions of the country, specifically, the central and south central states of region 5. Currently, less than four percent of the births in these states are attended by midwives. Many of these states lack the population density to evoke significant political change on the national level. The rural nature of these states also creates barriers to health education and access to midwifery services. To combat these issues, it is our responsibility to identify all of the professional allies of midwifery. It is imperative that we continue to collaborate and network with our partners to increase public knowledge within these communities regarding the utility of midwives. Some of the barriers to the midwifery growth include the lack of respect among health care professionals and our equity as autonomous health care providers. In order to elevate and support the midwifery model, we recommend that every midwife take the initiative to influence policy at local, state, and national levels. As we gain strength within the political arena we can decrease the compromises we are forced to make, decrease the thinned practice of midwifery, and increase the availability of midwives to our patients who deserve our care. Lastly, it is crucial that we take action to encourage the government to reimburse at a more comparable rate so that the underserved population has greater access to quality health care.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has proposed the DNP as the entry to practice for advanced practice nursing by the year 2015. As student midwives, on behalf of future students in years to come, we have concerns regarding our educational future. We have read and agree with the position statement on the DNP outlined by the Directors of Midwifery Education (DOME) in Volume 52, Issue 1, of the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, (the January/Febuary 2007 issue). We affirm that Masters level education for entry to practice is more than adequate, but in light of the national trend towards the DNP, we recognize that as midwives we need to stay competitive with other fields. We would like to see continued and increased discussion and clarification within the ACNM regarding the way in which the DNP would affect the educational requirements of currently practicing midwives, current students and future students, particularly in terms of educational cost, both financial and temporal, and feasibility of training and preceptorship. More importantly, though, because nursing in not the sole pathway to professional midwifery certification, and because we have a professional identity which predates nursing, with its own theory and disciplinary knowledge, we as students would like to see alternative post-Masters educational options available to us. We urge you to continue to pursue the development of the Doctorate of Midwifery, that would include, but not necessarily be limited to, practice as the focus, as an alternative to the DNP, which will support and validate midwifery as its own distinct discipline.
The student representatives have identified the diversification of the profession as a priority. We hope that our midwife population can reflect those that we serve—women of diverse race, ethnicity, country of origin, sexual orientation, economic status, age, religious beliefs and ability. We propose four strategies to achieve this goal:
• Encourage nurse-midwives of the above mentioned minority groups to attend career days at their local high schools and colleges, or their alma maters, in order to increase visibility and reach out to prospective students who can identify with the midwife as a professional role model.
• Encourage program directors to devote more time and attention in the curriculum to the healthcare needs of these minority populations.
• Encourage the proportion of workshops and sessions dealing with the healthcare needs of the increasingly diverse U.S. population.
• Advocate for the unique needs of diverse patients in the clinical area, through research generation and existing research utilization, and through direct political action.
Communication is a necessary tool in any successful organization, and is crucial in enabling student participation in various levels of the ACNM. We would like to propose three recommendations for consideration by the ACNM this year:
In the twenty-first century students across the country rely increasingly on internet sources for their information and communication needs. It is crucial for ACNM to accommodate this growing trend in order to both integrate the fresh energies of current students and reach out to prospective students interested in learning more about our profession. We suggest a student website be created linked to the ACNM homepage that is specifically created to foster student involvement and education about the College. We are aware that this suggestion was made during last year’s Student Report and were disappointed to see that such a development was not included in the recent improvements to the website.
This website would allow students from different programs to communicate with each other, the ACNM and the midwifery community. Additionally, it would serve as a resource for prospective students to learn about their educational options and contact student representatives from each program. Ideally this page would include:
• A School Directory including contact information of a student representative from each school
• Clear instructions on joining the student list-serve, along with a link to that site
• Opportunities to get involved in midwifery politics at the state and national levels
• A bulletin board highlighting updates in issues relevant to students
• A List of nurse midwives interested in precepting students
We are excited to be actively involved in this process.
We would also like to make a suggestion regarding the students in isolated regions of the country, distance-learning programs, or alone in their program. Many of these students are interested in participating in the chapter and/or state meetings and would greatly appreciate if these were web cast or recorded. This would benefit not only these students, but all ACNM members who are unable to attend meetings.
We appreciate having a voice during the conference, but to promote continuity we would ask the board to consider a permanent presence for a student or students on the board of directors to provide input and ideas. We are aware that this year, with new bylaws, we anticipate there will be a restructuring of the College, and we feel the division of education would be the most appropriate place for student representation. Other organizations such as ACOG, AMA, and Lamaze International have student members on their boards; we would like to see ACNM make this change as well. In addition, as we are dues paying members of the college and have our own unique voice, we seek representation through voting member status.
We appreciate this opportunity to present our concerns and recommendations in the student report. We look forward to your continued support and response.