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At the Table: an insiderís perspective on advocacy at ACNM

By Melanie Furrer, SNM, BSN, RN, ACNM Government Relations Intern

Letís start out with a little introduction. Iím Melanie: RN first, and graduate student second. Iím at Johns Hopkins University pursuing my masterís in public health nursing and nurse-midwifery. In three semesters, one month and 5 days (but whoís counting?) I and my diploma will be ready to sit the boards to become a CNM! Though my final goal seems far away as I suffocate under hundreds of pages of reading in my 50lb pathophysiology book and develop carpal tunnel syndrome from seemingly endless postings for my online courses, I have had the privilege this semester of witnessing a different side of nurse-midwifery.

I began my semester internship with Cara Kinzelman in the ACNM Government Relations department in January. My goal was to become more familiar with the intimidating world of health policy, and to gain a better understanding for how I, as a future midwife, can advocate for my patients and my profession. As a student and practicing nurse, Iíve noticed that we often shy away from the realm of policy. With all the stress and pressure involved in our profession, nurses often do not have the time or energy to see beyond their clinical setting. Policy has always been intimidating to me because of my lack of familiarity. I have never felt that I knew quite enough to effectively partake in the conversation. The past semester has been extremely formative in my developing a relationship with health politics and policy.

As part of my work, I have had the opportunity to attend a congressional briefing and a workforce briefing, sit in on conference calls, meet people from every ACNM department, and become more familiar with the way that a professional organization like ACNM advocates on a larger scale for the interests of their affiliates. The people here work on so many different levels in so many different areas to ensure that CNMs and CMs are able to practice to the fullest extent of their scope and licensure. They provide practicing midwives with the information, resources, and support they need to advocate for themselves locally, as well as stay up to date on best practices and keep up with their continuing education requirements. Globally, ACNM works in many different countries to educate and train midwives to serve their communities. Lastly but very importantly, ACNM works to promote our profession and make the public aware who midwives are, who we care for, and how our practice can effect positive change in all populations.

My time as an ACNM intern has really highlighted for me the importance of belonging to a professional organization. A popular refrain in my courses lately, regarding leadership and management in nursing, is ďif you are not at the table, you will be on the menu.Ē ACNM makes sure that midwives are at the table. Midwives lead busy, stressful lives, and it is important that we have an organization to look out for our best interests Ė someone to go to the table for us when we are not able to do so ourselves. This collective voice has the potential for a greater impact than any of our individual voices alone. My time here has been an awesome introduction to the world of policy and politics, and now that Iíve gotten my feet wet, I think about my practice in a very different way. I am excited to move forward in my career with a better understanding of this aspect of midwifery and a more active voice in advocacy through policy change.

Posted By Barbra Elenbaas | 4/17/2013 5:01:21 PM



Any opinions expressed in this blog are those of the individual participant(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American College of Nurse-Midwives. ACNM is not responsible for accuracy of any of the information provided by guest bloggers and/or members via the Comments section. We welcome all feedback Ė including comments, ideas and suggestions. We also welcome civil, friendly debates. However, any and all content that is deemed inflammatory or rude will not be posted.


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