Return to Newsroom & Events > Get Connected

Embracing our Past and Forging the Future: Monday at the Annual Meeting

As a future midwife, I find myself busy and excited and tired after my second day at our 60th anniversary Annual Meeting. There has been a lot to do, see, and experience. Since this was my first conference ever, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had been told that it would be exciting and a lot of fun, and that I would meet a lot of people – that description has proved accurate indeed!

As I sat in the Opening Business Meeting, I overheard 2 future midwives say “I feel like I know everyone here, and it’s wonderful.” I think it is an apt description of the warmth of this gathering. While it’s true that not everyone is overly friendly (or maybe they're just not awake), the balance of attendees are welcoming and engaging, even if only with a nod and a smile as I pass. I have lost track of how many women I have met.

The opening of the meeting taught me a great deal about the founding of our professional organization, and the challenges and changes that have brought us to this point. I was delighted to hear that Kitty Ernst refused to accept the diminutive title of “obstetrical assistant,” and produced brochure during her ACNM presidency in the early 60s which was distributed to over 150 thousand people. It is obvious that I am becoming a midwife standing on the shoulders of many strong, vibrant, feisty women who led our movement and would not back down in the face of adversity. Throughout our history, our leaders have fought mightily to support the women, infants, and families we care for; to achieve recognition for the science and art of midwifery; and to advance us as a profession.

I learned that our organization is strong and growing stronger:

  • Nearly 8000 dues-paying members
  • Increasing numbers of newly-certified midwives, including over 500 in 2014
  • Organizational budget of over 5.5 million dollars
  • Future streamlining of benchmarking and data collection with an online interface coming in 2016
  • Midwifery is being seen in a positive light through the media now more than ever

I also understand that we face challenges and growing pains:

  • A graying workforce: Over 2000 of our members are 65 or older
  • Only 57% of CMs and CNMs are members of ACNM
  • We are facing a maternity workforce shortage of epic proportions – we need more money and more government support to increase the number of midwifery students and preceptors to support moms and babies

I was encouraged by what I heard, and that I have made a great choice in pursuing midwifery as my second career. ACNM President Ginger Breedlove further invigorated my pursuit when I met her later at the Student Treats and Greets session.

During the afternoon premier session, “The Future of Midwifery: Seizing the Moment,” Holly Powell Kennedy referenced a great quote from Malcom Gladwell’s The Tipping Point:

“The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”

I think this is appropriate when thinking about midwifery on a larger scale. We are moving ever forward in the collection of an evidence base and scientifically supported basis for midwifery. We have reached a point of consensus among midwifery organizations, with formal agreements on the definition of normal physiological birth and the uniformity of accreditation, principles, and guidelines for the development and education of future midwives, whatever their path. One of our greatest challenges is to employ the research and the growing evidence base in our work and our approach to insurers and hospitals, as well as the general public. According to CDC, 8.2% of all US births were attended by midwives in 2013 – we only need 2% more to get us to 10%, which some researchers agree is the magic number for something to “catch on” or become mainstream.

Here’s to reaching our tipping point!

Kimberly Kelstone is a DNP student at Stony Brook University. She brings with her 25 years experience as an American Sign Language interpreter especially focused in medicine. She is a married mom of 2 pre-teen boys currently living in Rochester, NY.

Posted By Barbra Elenbaas | 7/1/2015 11:32:15 AM



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 – 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.


American College of Nurse-Midwives.
8403 Colesville Rd, Suite 1550 | Silver Spring MD 20910
Phone: 240-485-1800 | Fax: 240-485-1818
Follow Us